Spinach Stems with Walnut Sauce

Cevizli Ispanak Sapi

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

Sephardic Flavors: Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean

Sephardic Flavors

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 2000

  • About

When thrifty Italian, Greek, and Turkish cooks clean spinach, they rarely discard the stems, as they can be served as a room-temperature salad dressed simply with olive oil and lemon juice. This recipe, which comes from Salonika, a Family Cookbook, has a Turkish name, but the nut sauce is Hispano-Arabic. (If it had a few minced cloves of garlic, the sauce would be a Greek skordalia.) In Moorish Spain, nut sauces were widely used, and almonds were the predominant thickener. Walnuts are more common to the Sephardic cooking of Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans, however. You could prepare this dish with Swiss chard stems as well, and the sauce also would be good on cooked zucchini, green beans, beets, or cauliflower.

Ingredients

  • stems from 3 pounds spinach
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Walnut Sauce

  • 1 cup ground toasted walnuts
  • 1 slice rustic bread, crusts removed, soaked in water, and squeezed dry
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons water, or as needed salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Put the spinach stems, onion, and olive oil in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until stems are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Lift out and discard the onion. Pour the contents of the pan into a sieve or colander and let drain for 15 minutes.

To make the walnut sauce, combine the ground nuts, soaked bread, vinegar, olive oil, and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Stir to mix well and season with salt and pepper. Salt is the key ingredient for balance here. The sauce should be thick but spreadable. If it is too thick, add the remaining 1 tablespoon water and taste again for seasoning.

Place the well-drained spinach stems in a serving bowl and pour the sauce over them. Allow to marinate for a few hours or as long as overnight. Serve at room temperature.