Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rebooted Kharoyses (Haroset) and Over-Wintered What?

Overwintered spinach from Lani's Farm
 Overwintering is the practice of planting late in the fall and then covering the sprouts so that they hibernate over the winter and come up in the early spring, usually right in time for Peysekh.  Over wintered greens are sweet and intensely flavored, and I urge you to rush out and try some while they are here.  This Passover I used the spinach above from Lani's Farm in this African Spinach with Pumpkin Seeds, and in Sephardic Spinach (recipe coming soon, mertseshem).

I also got some chickweed.  Elizabeth Schneider recommends using chickweed in an apple and walnut salad that sounded a bit like rebooted kharoyses, so I served this along with the

red vine sorrel

Wow, is this the prettiest sorrel (shchav) you have ever beheld?  I bought a wjole bunch of this even before I read Jeffrey Yoskowitz's NYTimes  piece, which I heartily endorse, as you can well imagine.

wasabi greens
I got some of these too.  Wow.  Just wow.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Spinach with Pumpkin seeds Vegan Passover

Yes, yes, I hear you.  You need a vegan peysekh entrée; you need something without matzo, gebrokhts, or wheat in any form, and you also need to make something for your daughter-in-law who can’t eat potatoes, and your other daughter-in-law who can’t have tree nuts.  I know last year you had to make four entrees, and indeed, the four vegan entrees of Passover may well be ready take their place in the Hagaddah, alongside the cups, sons, questions, varieties of redemption, and other paschal tetrads, because what could there possibly be that everyone could eat that is also as amazingly delicious as the feast of freedom deserves to be? 

Aha, you know you have come to the right place.

I tried this first only two years ago, but now I can not imagine peysekh without it  The recipe is adapted from the Ghanian Spinach Stew with Sweet Plantains that appeared in the Times in March of 2015.  It immediately caught my eye for a few reasons.  First, it satisfies all the conditions above (as adapted herewith), and that by itself is worth remarking.  Second, I really like how the pumpkin seed cream makes the dish into a rich sort of vegan creamed spinach or shag panir.  Of course, I love the idea plantains as a side dish for peysekh (that’s three), and fourth (another paschal tetrad!),  I was also excited about the chance to use smoked paprika, which I had never tried.  As it happened, my kosher paprika emporium does not have smoked paprika for Passover, even though they have every other kind of paprika in the universe, so I ended up using sweet and hot paprika.  The recipe in the Times also called for fish sauce.  I am thinking some toasted norimaki might add the desired scent of the sea.

Peysekh Spinach with Pumpkin Seeds

½ cup coconut oil, or mix of coconut and vegetable oil
1 medium onion,
5 - 9 cloves garlic
1 pinky-sized piece of ginger, (based on a medium-sized woman’s pinky, about 2 tablespoons after chopping)
1 habanero chile, or other type of chile (If you are on a totally nightshade-free diet, omit the chile and add ground black pepper).
Kosher salt
2 ½ pounds plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
¾ cup pumpkin seeds
 2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika or a mix of sweet and hot paprika
1 pound spinach*

Dice the onion, mince or crush the garlic, and chop the ginger and the chile.  Clean and chop the spinach.
Cook the onions, garlic, ginger, and chile in the oil. and salt. Stir and fry , until the onions begin to color. Add the tomatoes and some salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and partly cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 25 minutes, add paprika and simmer another two minutes. 
Pulse the pumpkin seeds to a fine powder in a food processor

Stir water into the pumpkin seed powder, a tablespoon at a time, until it is a thin paste. Spoon the pumpkin seed paste onto the tomato sauce, and spread it out. Cover the pan, cook for a few minutes, and stir.
Add water as needed, and increase heat to a boil. Stir in the spinach, and cook until soft. Add salt to taste, and serve with home-fried sweet plantains.

*over-wintered spinach is available briefly right around peysekh.  It is the most sublime spinach in the world.  Look for it at your farmers’ market.

The original recipe suggests serving the spinach with boiled plantains.  I love this idea, both because plantains seem to be an ideal foil for the spicy saucy spinach and because they provide a comforting alternative for folks who can’t eat too many potatoes or nightshades, for whom peysekh presents a formidable challenge.  To my taste, the boiled plantains were delicious when they were piping hot out of the pot, but aggressively bland very shortly thereafter.  When I make this next time, I am going to try home-frying the boiled plantains.

I cooked the spinach in advance because I had five pounds of raw spinacsh taking over my kitchen, and that works just fine, possibly even better than the original method.

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