a spring stew: rhubarb and fresh herbs with braised beef {khoresh-e-reevas}

yesterday while walking through our local farmer’s market full of wonderful spring bounty i started thinking about the spring seasons of my childhood. the seasons were such an integral part of our lives, mostly because whenever possible we spent time outdoors. after the last of the winter snow had melted, the garden would start to come alive again, and there would be blossoms on fruit trees and fresh sprouts and herbs coming up everywhere. one of our favorite things to do was run around the garden with friends-we pretend-played a lot, and often, i’d end up being the mom of the group, preparing (mostly inedible) meals for my “kids” from the leaves, fruits, and herbs we gathered (this often upset my grandma because we’d waste the not so ripe fruits and baby sprouts of herbs she was waiting for). i remember our excitement as we jumped over the waterways that ran through the garden, the sun gently warming our skin, the scent of sweet blossoms strong in the air, making ourselves “homes” to play in from firewood, fabric, cardboard, and anything else we could find. those were sweet days. i so miss those days. back then, time had a different meaning (we seemed to have an endless supply) and all we worried about was having fun. yesterday i wanted to make a dish reminiscent of the meals i used to prepare in the garden-they were mostly green, and as fresh as you can imagine! at the market, i picked up some beautiful pinkish rhubarb (amazing health benefits) along with bunches of organic parsley and mint. ahhhhh, the scent of it. it was going to be a first for me: a savory rhubarb stew that tasted, looked, and smelled just like spring.

for 4 portions {serve with steamed basmati (or brown basmati) rice}

  • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, cut in 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1 large bunch (2 cups) organic parsley, washed, finely minced
  • 1 bunch (1 cup) organic mint leaves, finely minced
  • 1 large onion, peeled thinly sliced
  • 1 pound grass fed organic stewing beef (cut in cubes), or veal shanks (like for osso bucco)
  • 1-2 tbs sugar (to taste)
  • 2-3 tsp turmeric
  • vegetable oil (i use olive oil)
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup good quality tomato sauce (or 2 tbs tomato paste dissolved in water)
  • 1 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 1-2 tbs warm water (optional)

 

1. in a dutch oven cook the meat (click here for recipe with pictures): add 3 tbs oil, 1/2 of the onion thinly sliced, turmeric, sea salt and pepper. sautee until browned, about 5 minutes or so, then add about 2 cups of water, cover and cook on med/low heat for at least 1 hour-or more until very tender.
2. in a skillet, add 1tbs oil and fry mint & parsley with a touch of salt for about 10 minutes on medium/ low heat until all the moisture has evaporated.
3. in a small saucepan, fry the remaining onion slices in oil to make “piaz dagh“, set aside on paper towel to drain the extra oil.
4. preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). add the saffron and tomato sauce to the cooked beef, stir, and taste for seasoning (adjust if necessary). transfer the beef mixture (or add everything to the dutch oven) to a baking dish (casserole). add the rhubarb, fried herbs, and piaz dagh (fried onions). cover with aluminum foil (with a few holes poked) and bake for about 30-40 minutes (make sure the delicate rhubarb does not fall apart or dissolve).
5. taste the stew-if too sour, dissolve sugar in a few teaspoons of water, add and bake for a few more minutes-if you’d like it more sour, then add a few teaspoons of fresh lime juice.
6. serve hot with a side of chelow, or plain steamed basmati rice (leave out spices).
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