BRAISED GREENS AND POTATOES WITH LEMON AND FENNEL

Serves 4.

Note: Adapted from “Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts,” by Aglaia Kremezi, who recommends serving this with ricotta or feta cheese and crusty bread. Find preserved lemon in the international section of the supermarket or at Mediterranean specialty food stores.

• 1/2 c. olive oil, plus good, fruity olive oil for drizzling, divided

• 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced

• 2 carrots, quartered and cut in 1-in. lengths

• 4 green onions, white and most of green parts, thinly sliced

• 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and coarsely chopped, fronds and tender stalks reserved

• 4 to 6 fingerling potatoes, cut in bite-sized pieces

• 1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle or finely ground

 

 

 

• 2 lb. mixed greens, spinach, sorrel, Swiss chard, outer leaves of romaine lettuce or any combination of sweet leafy greens, large leaves coarsely chopped

• 1/2 c. white wine

• 1 c. water

• 1/4 preserved lemon, flesh discarded, rinsed and chopped (see Note)

• 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt, or more to taste

• 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

• 1/2 c. chopped fresh dill, divided

• A good pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

Directions

In a wide, deep soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, green onions, fennel bulb, potatoes and fennel seeds, stir to coat with the oil and cook an additional 3 minutes.

Add the greens in batches, starting with the larger leaves and gradually adding the smaller, more tender ones. Stir a few times to help the leaves wilt and reduce in size, then add the wine and cook for 1 minute; add the water, the preserved lemon and salt to taste.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the greens and potatoes are tender and most of the juices have been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. If there is still too much liquid, raise the heat to high and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced, up to an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, half the dill, the fennel fronds and stalks and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes; toss, taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Cook an additional 2 minutes to marry the flavors, then sprinkle with remaining dill.

Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with the good, fruity olive oil.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 390 Fat 28 g Sodium 666 mg

Carbohydrates 28 g Saturated fat 4 g Protein 7 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 9 g

 

SPICED VEGETABLE SOUP

Serves 10 to 12 (about 3 1/2 quarts).

Note: Find hot pepper paste or harissa in the international section of the supermarket or at Mediterranean specialty food stores. Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s “Persiana.”

• 2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil

• 1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-in. chunks

• 2 large onions, diced, plus 1 large onion cut in half and thinly sliced into half-moons, divided

• 3 garlic cloves, crushed

• 3 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and finely chopped

• 3 boiling potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1 1/2-in. chunks

• 5 tomatoes, roughly chopped

• 4 tsp. ground cumin

• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 2 tsp. smoked paprika

• 3 tsp. hot pepper paste, such as harissa (see Note)

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 2 (14- to 15- 1/2-oz) cans chickpeas (reserve the liquid plus a couple of handfuls of chickpeas to garnish)

• 1 large zucchini, finely diced

• 3 1/2 oz. feta cheese

• Herb Oil (see recipe)

Directions

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add enough olive oil to generously coat the base of the pan. Add the butternut squash, diced onions, garlic, leeks and potatoes, and cook, without browning, until the vegetables soften slightly, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and hot pepper paste, and give it all a good stir to ensure the spices evenly coat the vegetables. Cover the vegetables completely with water, add a generous amount of salt (I would suggest at least 4 teaspoons) and black pepper. Stir once more and continue to cook at a gentle boil until the squash is tender when poked with a knife, about 30 minutes.

Purée the mixture in a food processor or blender until you get a lovely, even, smooth soup. Once smooth, add the chickpeas and their liquid, and stir well.

Adjust the consistency of the soup with additional water if desired, then taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cook an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the zucchini and cook for a final 20 minutes before serving.

While the soup is cooking, drizzle some olive oil into a large frying pan set over high heat, and fry the sliced onion until browned and crispy. Add the reserved chickpeas and brown them along with the onions. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions and chickpeas from the pan and set aside.

Pour the soup into large bowls (preferably wide, shallow ones), then generously crumble the feta on top. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of the Herb Oil (see recipe) into each bowl over the feta. Finally, add the reserved crispy fried onions and chickpeas.

Nutrition information per each of 12 servings:

Calories 311 Fat 16 g Sodium 1,141 mg

Carbohydrates 37 g Saturated fat 3 g Protein 9 g Cholesterol 7 mg Dietary fiber 8 g

 

HERB OIL

Makes variable amount.

Note: Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s “Persiana.”

• 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. olive oil, more if needed

• Good handful parsley

• Good handful dill

• Good handful cilantro

• Handful shelled pistachios

• Squeeze of lemon juice

• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the olive oil, parsley, dill, cilantro, pistachios, lemon juice and some salt and pepper, and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped and has the consistency of pesto. If you need to thin the mixture, add a bit more oil.