“Do you want to be as strong as Popeye?”
Growing up, this Lebanese Spinach Stew was one of the kids’ regular nightmares in my family. The argument was always to bring up Popeye and his legendary spinach fueled strength while trying to convince reluctant kids to eat their meal.
This is my mother’s recipe. Most probably every family has a variation of this spinach preparation. It is a fresh spinach stew cooked in a rich broth with fresh cilantro, onions, garlic and lemon juice. Comfort food at its best; simple, heartwarming and “citrus-licious”.
With or without nuts? My mom used to include pine nuts while cooking the meat but my husband likes this dish pine nut free. When craving Kiki’s version I serve toasted pine nuts on the side for extra crunch and nuttiness.
Lebanese cuisine has many similar types of stews; you hate them as a child and crave them dearly as an adult. These easy dishes hold memories packed with mommy-home-cooking-love.
Traditional recipes are the absolute best, specially when we get to re-create them and pass the flavorful cultural heritage to our children. Priceless!
LEBANESE SPINACH STEW
Recipe credits: Rafaella Sargi
Serves 6 to 8
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ lb (250 g) ground beef
2 garlic cloves, grated
½ teaspoon allspice, ground
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups water
1 lb (450 g) fresh baby spinach leaves
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Scale and prep all the ingredients.
You will need a large pot with a lid.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, garlic and ½ teaspoon of salt, mix then cook until soften and translucent. Turn up the heat to medium-high, add the ground meat and allspice and cook until the meat is cooked through, mixing very often. Add the chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Add the baby spinach, chopped cilantro and ground coriander and cook until spinach is soft and everything homogenous. Add lemon juice a cook for just a few additional minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.
Serve hot with white rice, toasted pine nuts and lemon wedges.