Indian Spinach - may 4, 2011
Sometimes dinner needs to be fast and furious, and a plan made in haste can go badly awry. But occasionally a crazed forage through the pantry yields exciting surprises, like last night. In this case, Nigel Slater's Indian Inspired Spinach and Potatoes were on the menu (from Tender, my second favorite kitchen garden cookbook), but after dumping my son in front of TV and gearing up for dinner, I found no spinach and only a single potato in the house. Luckily, we had some sweet potatoes leftover from a past CSA box, fresh chard, spring onions and green garlic, all of which remade a semi-traditional take on saag aloo into a delightfully Springy Californian version. For a little extra protein that the kids would eat I warmed some frozen chickpeas with a little bit of curry powder and tossed those on top.
Indian Spinach: (adapted from Nigel Slater's Tender)
1 large bunch spinach or chard
3 medium potatoes, sweet potatoes or a mix of both
2 T vegetable oil (I like canola)
1 large onion or 2 large spring onions
2 cloves garlic or stalks green garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 t black mustard seeds
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 c cooked chickpeas
1/2 t curry powder
rice to serve
Start by putting on a pot of salted water on to boil, enough to cover the potatoes. This is good over rice, or with naan, so start the rice now if you're having that or send someone to collect some takeout naan. In a small pot, stir the chickpeas and curry powder together and warm over low heat.
Wash and scrub the potatoes (peel the sweet ones), then slice into 1/3 inch rounds or so and put them in the pot. While the potatoes boil until tender (5-10 minutes, just keep poking them with a fork to check), wash the spinach or chard, remove and discard the spinach stems or if using chard, separate the leaves from the stems (the easiest way to do this is just grab the stem with one hand and pull toward the outer edge of the leaf with the other, tearing leaf off the stem as you go). Chop the chard stems finely and put them aside. Next wash and chop the onions, garlic and ginger.
By now the potatoes should be tender. Dump them in a strainer in the sink, wipe out the hot pot with a towel and put it back on medium heat. When it is dry, add the oil, then onions and sauté for a few minutes until softened and add just a pinch of salt. Next add the chard stems and cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, mustard seeds and turmeric, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked potatoes and about 1/2 cup of water. Bring it to a boil and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, just a few minutes. Add the spinach or chard leaves and cook until they are wilted to your liking. Add a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice, with chickpeas on top.