Easy Sides - Palak

 

I love greens. We all know we should eat them. Some may like them, others may have a hard time choking them down. I have a little one who won't eat a salad, say, but she'll devour this easy side every time I make it. In fact, she requests it on a regular basis. Making a nourishing side like this makes me feel like EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK. She had some greens. (And so did I, in the process.)

 Easy Sides. Palak. GF DF

Easy Sides. Palak. GF DF

I also just did a presentation last night on the importance of soaking nuts and seeds, grains, beans and legumes. We touched on the why, went over the how, and talked about alternatives to make it a do-able task in any kitchen. I will offer this class again in the future, to be sure, but let it be known that if this is a topic that is of interest to you and you'd like to gather a small group of friends or co-workers to explore the why and the how, get in touch.

This recipe has evolved over the years, and started out as an offering for dinner from my friend Virginia. So thank you, Ginny. This is a nourishing and nutrient-packed food that can be served as a main at your meal, or as a delicious side. You get to pick. Oh yes, it reheats beautifully for lunches and future meals, so make sure to make a double batch. I intended for this to be a double batch, but we wolfed it all down at dinner last night. I guess we were hungry.

This is a great way to get those greens in. It's also one to tuck in the 'Remember for the Summer' file, for when your garden is overrun with greens and you just don't know what to do with them. For this recipe I made last night, I used a big container of organic spinach, threw in 3 leaves of swiss chard (chopped the ribs separately and added them earlier in the cooking time along with the onions), about a handful of broccoli and half a bunch of fresh parsley, stems and all. I love adding fresh herbs to this kind of meal, as aromatic herbs tend to be higher in polyphenols and antioxidants, and where there are polyphenols, one should think 'anti-inflammatory' and 'liver love'. (Same goes for cilantro. That would be yummy in this dish!)

Know that pre-soaking does involve a bit of fore-thought, but it will certainly be worth it. As Isa from the Post Punk Kitchen says, 'A.B.S. Always Be Soaking.'

 
 Mise-en-place will benefit you greatly here.

Mise-en-place will benefit you greatly here.

 

THE PLAYERS
1 cup cashew nuts
1 tbsp lemon juice
filtered water
2 tbsp solid cooking fat (I love coconut oil here, to support the curry flavours but ghee or butter works)
1 onion, minced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger, fresh
½ tbsp minced turmeric root, fresh (optional – you could use turmeric powder instead, about ½ tsp)
big container or two bunches of greens, chopped
3 tsp Madras curry powder
1 tbsp curry paste (You can use store-bought, or make your own like the Korma paste I made from Jamie Oliver's book Food Revolution)
2 tsp good quality sea salt
2 tsp lemon juice
pepper

THE HOW-TO

  • At least 8 hours before you plan to make this dish, pop your cashews along with the lemon juice in a glass jar, and cover with filtered water. Put your cover on, and allow it to sit at room temperature on the counter for the day, or at least 6 hours. If you think you will be too busy the morning of this meal, do it the night before, and when you come to breakfast, pop that jar in the fridge to use later that day. No harm in letting it soak a bit longer.
  • When it's time to start dinner, take all of your ingredients out, along with your blender and a big bowl, if your blender is a hand blender. Chop up your veggies so they're ready to go. (Mise-en-place will help you immensely in this kind of scenario.)
  • Set a deep and wide pan or pot on your burner on medium, and heat up. When it's hot, add your solid fat, allow it to melt, and throw in your onion, ginger and turmeric (if using). Sauté in your pan, moving the bits around, for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, curry powder and curry paste. Sauté this in your pan for a minute or two, until it's very fragrant.
  • Add your greens at this point, from the toughest greens down to the ones that will cook fastest, and toss around until they're wilted and cooked through. (Broccoli will take longer to cook than parsley, so wait a bit before adding the parsley.)
  • In a big bowl, dump your soaked cashews along with the liquid they're in, and blitz them in to a paste using a handblender. Alternately, you can also do this in a blender. Once they are nice and creamy, you want to add the concoction from the pan (greens, onions, spices, flavours) and blitz them in with the blended cashews, until they are a nice creamy consistency. Dump the whole lot back in the pan.
  • Set your heat to medium low, add your lemon juice and pepper, and adjust your flavours. If you want it to sing a bit more, add some salt; if you'd like a bit more bitterness, add a bit of lemon juice. If it's too thick, add some stock or water to the mix, until it has reached your desired consistency. Serve as soon as it's warmed up.
  • If you're ok with dairy, you can turn this into Palak Paneer: once your greens and cashews are blended, leave them in the bowl or blender, and turn your pan back on. Add some solid cooking fat to the pan when it's ready, and pan-fry some paneer chunks until nice and golden. Halloumi cheese might be good to use here too! When they are golden, dump your palak back in with the paneer, and continue on as the recipe states above.
 
 Generous helping of Palak, with Salmon Burgers and kimchi horseradish compound mayo.

Generous helping of Palak, with Salmon Burgers and kimchi horseradish compound mayo.

 

Bon appétit!