The weather has been beautiful. Warm days, very few of them truly hot, and cool nights, perfect for sleeping with the window open. This is how I like my summer (partly because I hate how much it costs to use the air conditioning). I know, I know, it’s not technically summer yet. I’m not trying to rush things, honest (never mind that the year is almost half over already).
This weather has been perfect for our spinach. The leaves have remained tender and vibrant, with no signs of bolting. My daughter and I planted it several weeks ago. It was the first thing to go into the ground, and one of the first edibles from our garden this year.
We’re don’t actually eat spinach cooked in traditional ways. Even sauteed with garlic, it’s not a favourite. But my daughter especially loves it, either in salads or straight from the garden as a yard snack. I wash and mostly dry it, and then roll it in a clean tea towel. Then I pop the whole thing into a large zip top bag. It stays fresh longer when I do this, ready for whatever inspiration strikes.
I prefer adding it to other things, like this dhal or salad. A dhal is a thick stew of pulses, like lentils, found in places like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is high in protein, and often served with rice or flat bread.
Red Lentil and Spinach Dhal
2 teaspoons ghee or coconut oil
small onion, minced
clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
6-10 curry leaves (optional)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup red lentils
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups water
large handful of fresh spinach, chopped
In a medium saucepan, heat the ghee or oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger, stirring continually until softened. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves (if using) and curry powder. Stir until the seeds pop.
Add the lentils, salt and water. Cover and cook gently for 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are tender and breaking apart, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach and stir to wilt. Serve immediately with rice or flat breads.
Taking inspiration from tabbouleh, I concocted this salad using fresh spinach in place of the parsley and mint. I took further licence with the dressing (as I do), which is why I’m not calling it spinach tabbouleh. Enjoy it with the dhal for a high protein, high fibre, meatless meal that is quick and satisfying.
Spinach and Bulgur Salad
This is what I did. Feel free to change up the veggies and herbs.
1/2 cup bulgur, cooked in salted water, drained and allowed to cool
1/2 small onion, finely minced
1 green onion, finely sliced
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped spinach (go ahead and use more)
handful of tender herbs, like parsley, mint or basil, chopped
zest and juice of one lime
splash of rice vinegar
splash of fish sauce or soy sauce
splash of neutral oil
salt and pepper