My mother hates kale; hence I wasn’t raised eating it. “I love all vegetables,” she’s told me a thousand times, “except for kale. I hate kale.” So when some dull green leafy greens showed up in our Terra Organics box, the box of local organic produce that is delivered to our home twice a month, I had no clue what it was. Fortunately they enclose a list of what you’ve got. Oh no, not kale!
Being the spend thrift that I am I wasn’t going to let this stuff sit in the refrigerator and turn into a science experiment. I went for a culinary experiment instead. How to prepare the kale? I didn’t like the look of recipes I found on the Internet. Then I remembered one of my favorite Persian dishes, Gormeh Sabzi and reached for one of my favorite cookbooks, Maideh Mazda’s In a Persian Kitchen. The result was wonderful! I simply replaced the spinach or lettuce called for in the recipe with the kale and other leafy greens that came in our order. If you find the recipe below to be too spicy (I doubled Mazda’s and cooked it in the Crockpot instead of on the stove. Next time I'm going to triple it so there are left-overs), add yogurt to your serving at the table to cut the spiciness. You serve it over chelo, Persian prepared rice which I also include. Some Persian cooks dry the greens for use during the winter and fall or they can be purchased in a bazaar or Persian market in a box with directions.
Khoresh Gormeh Sabzi or Green Vegetable Sauce
1/3 C. dried black-eyed peas (I used lentils because that’s what was in the cupboard)
1 ½ C. water
4 T. cooking oil
1 lb. stew beef cut into 1” cubes (I made ours vegetarian)
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. nutmeg
4 T. oil
1 C. chopped onions
1 C. chopped leek
1 C. chopped spinach
1 C. chopped parsley
2 C. water (because I didn’t cook any meat I used 4 C. of organic chicken stock)
3 T. lemon juice
Some recipes call for chopped lettuce. You will want to use leaf lettuce, not the dreadful iceberg. Following are the directions from the Mazda book. For my version, I just chopped it all up, put it in the Crockpot with the lentils and water and set the time for six hours. The Crockpot cost 8 cents to make a meal and you get to come home to dinner waiting.
Cook peas in 1 ½ C. water on medium fire for about 20 minutes. Heat oil in 2 qt pot. Add meat, onions and seasoning and sauté until the meat is browned. Meanwhile in a frying pan heat oil and add chopped green onions, leek, spinach, and parsley and sauté for 10 minutes. Add 2 C. water and lemon juice to the meat, cover, and let simmer for about 30 minutes. When meat is tender, add cooked peas and vegetables 15-20 minutes before serving. Serve over chelo which if you’re clever, you started at the same time as the khoreshe. However, if you use a Crockpot, all you have to do is come home and make the rice.
Persian Rice or Chelo
I learned to make Persian rice from a Persian who learned from his mother. Measuring is not part of the process. You can use any long grain rice, but basmati or jasmine is best. I can only make Persian style rice in large amounts. If you have left-overs you can always find uses for it.
In a 6 qt. pot pour basmati or jasmine rice into a large pile.
Fill pot with cold water.
Rinse rice to cut down starch. I rinse it three times.
Place pot on stove on high with a lid. When the lid begins to dance fish out a grain of rice with a spoon and put it between your teeth. If it is half cooked you’re ready for Step Two. Generally speaking it will have been on the stove for about 10 minutes and should be ready.
Drain rice in a colander and return the pot to the burner with the heat turned down to 2.5-3 or medium low.
Melt ¼ C. butter in the bottom of the pan
Pour the drained rice back into the pot and cover with a folded tea towel.
Place lid on top of the tea towel, being careful to fold the points of the tea towel up onto the lid to prevent them from catching on fire.
Set the timer for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes remove the pot from the stove and set in sink. Run a little cold water on the base of the pan to stop cooking.
The result will be steamed, fluffy rice with a tasty crust on the bottom of the pan. This is generally reserved for guests or in the case of our house, fought over. This process is not as complicated as it may sound and once you've filled your house with the smell of cooking basamati you'll be hooked.