The Iranians, the Lebanese, the Turks and the Moroccans all have their own variations of this velvety dish of cooked spinach combined with yogurt. Served as mezze in restaurants throughout the Middle East, this is a delicious way to enjoy spinach. Pulled from several traditions, this version includes currants, onions and pine nuts, served warm with dollops of cool, garlic-flavoured yogurt and chunks of crusty bread.
500 g/1 lb. 2 oz. fresh spinach leaves, thoroughly washed and drained
250 ml/1 cup thick, creamy, yogurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, cut in half lengthways, in half again crossways and sliced with the grain
1–2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1–2 teaspoons finely chopped dried red chilli/chile
2 tablespoons tiny currants, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
2 tablespoons pine nuts
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
warm crusty bread, to serve
Place the spinach in a steamer, or in a colander placed inside a large pot partially filled with water. Steam the spinach until soft. Drain off and squeeze out any excess water, then coarsely chop the steamed spinach.
In a bowl, beat the yogurt with the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and put aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and stir in the onion with the sugar for 2–3 minutes to soften. Add the chilli/chile, currants and pine nuts for 2–3 minutes, until the currants plump up and the pine nuts begin to colour.
Toss in the spinach, making sure it is mixed well, and add the lemon juice.
Season well with salt and pepper and tip the spinach onto a serving dish.
Make a well in the middle of the spinach and spoon some of the yogurt into it. Serve while the spinach is still warm with chunks of crusty bread to scoop it up.
This recipe is from Mezze by Ghillie Basan, photography by Jan Baldwin © Ryland Peters & Small