I have been feeling that I am not eating my usual quotient of leafy greens, which must be true since I somehow have rainbow chard, dandelion and spinach left in the fridge even though tomorrow is grocery day. My herb garden made a comeback when I was in New York and, despite my cutting most things back prior to departure, I have yet another overabundance of herbs to use. I know this is a good thing; I had just mentally switched off from the herb garden for the season...I used mint, lime balm, sorrel, Vietnamese coriander, Italian parsley and tarragon thinnings in this stew but anything would do, really. Dill is particularly nice in this, but I didn't have any, and I would avoid basil as it might over power the dish.
I immediately thought of Ash Reshteh, a Persian soup of greens, herbs, pulses and thick noodles, topped with fried onions and an Iranian dairy product called Kashk (rather like a fermented Greek Yogurt), and drizzled with mint oil. My neighbor in Beverly Hills made it for me the year we lived there, and it was delicious but -- with its three kinds of pulses and noodles -- it was a little too heavy for what I was craving, namely greens. This stew contains a lot of them for one person, but they do cook right down.
A few years ago, I adapted the recipe and made a version with many types of stewed greens and dried chickpeas, but today decided for a slightly faster version with canned black beans and the above mentioned greens. I highly recommend my version as it was delicious though I did feel that the black beans were unnecessary or should have been replaced with lentils, and you should definitely google Ash Reshteh if you are looking for a slightly more involved and authentic dish.
1/2 can black beans, rinsed
3 cups mixed greens, well washed and chopped
1/2 cup chopped herbs
1/2 leek, washed and peeled, cut into thin rounds
1/4 red onion, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1 Tbsp bulgur wheat
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsps (1 tsp +1/2 tsp +1/2 tsp) olive oil
1 Tbsp plain full-fat Greek yogurt
Juice from a lemon
1/4 tsp nipitella or 1/2 tsps dried mint
Salt to taste
Wash all the greens and herbs very well (especially the spinach and parsley which get very gritty). Remove as many stems as possible and set aside for some other use. Chop everything very finely and set aside in a large bowl.
Put the bulgur wheat in a separate bowl with a generous pinch of salt and cover with boiling water. Stir to combine and set aside.
Heat one teaspoon of the oil in a sauce pan. As soon as it starts to shimmer, add the leek, the garlic and the turmeric. Sprinkle in some salt and lower heat to medium. Stir until the leeks have started to soften and the garlic smells delicious.
Wash and drain the beans and add to the pan. Stir to combine and add one cup of water. Then add the greens, one large handful at a time, stirring each handful into the liquid and letting it wilt slightly before adding the next. When all the greens have been added and have wilted a bit, drain the bulgur wheat roughly and add it to the pan. Cover, and cook for five minutes over medium.
While the greens are cooking, prepare your garnishes.
Heat one half teaspoon of the oil in a frying pan. As soon as the oil shimmers, add the red onion and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the onion crescents are softened and the edges are beginning to caramelize. This will only take a couple of minutes. Scrape the onion into a small dish.
Place the pan back on the stove and add the remaining half teaspoon of oil. As soon as it shimmers, add the nipitella or dried mint and stir. The oil will foam up practically immediately. Turn off the heat as soon as it does and set the pan aside.
Check the seasoning of the stew and add more salt if needed. Stir in the lemon juice.
Ladle the stew into a deep soup bowl. Top with the fried red onion, the tablespoon of Greek yogurt, and drizzle with the mint oil.
This is a twelve minute and forty two second to the table meal.