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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easing into spring: minty fresh taboule and a green bean salad with blood oranges

green bean salad with blood oranges and feta cheesei’ve been so obsessed with quinoa lately that i’ve neglected to make taboule the traditional way, with bulgur rather than substituting my favorite grain-seed (q-u-i-n-o-a}. at our house we really enjoy a good spicy quinoa-taboule (almost on a weekly basis), but there is something soothing and familiar and frankly more “substantial” about the original version-so, in planning the menu for a small gathering of friends last night i decided on a bowl of super fresh lemony taboule loaded with mint leaves (the way my lovely lebanese friend taught me way too many years ago in france) to go with my all time favorite chicken dish, adda’a morrocan chicken (which turned out better than ever i think- possibly because

minty fresh taboule

of the last minute addition of a cup of fresh orange juice). one of the best things about taboule is that the leftovers taste almost better the next day-which brings me to the most important factor in making a good one-the ingredients: they must be fresh and abundant (more fresh parsley, mint, and lemons than you think you need).

taboule ingredients

if you plan to make some, and you really should, because nothing makes you feel as spring(y) fresh as this dish-be ready to become pretty good friends with your favorite sharp knife….you’ll have to do some chopping, but it WILL be worth it. speaking of chopping, my green bean, feta, and walnut salad requires very little of it. it is so often my go to {delicious and easy} salad/side dish/almost-a-meal when i entertain-here i added the last blood oranges of the season for a citrusy punch and their beautiful color. it made the perfect side for the medium rare tri-tip roast i served with it. okay, now i’m hungry, and my mouth is literally watering. i’m hitting the fridge for a nice bowl of that leftover taboule~wish you could join me:-)

ingredients for 4-6 servings of bulgur (or substitute quinoa) taboule:

  • a bowl of mint fresh taboule2 large bunches of organic flat leaf parsley (about 1.5-2 cups) washed, allowed to dry, and finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch organic fresh mint leaves (1/2-1 cup), washed, allowed to dry and thinly sliced/chopped
  • 6-7 organic scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 ripe roma (or 3 medium ripe) tomatoes, finely cubed
  • 3/4 cup (i prefer less bulgur-adjust amount to your taste) cooked bulgur or quinoa (boil in lightly salted water for just a few minutes then drain excess water and allow it to cool)
  • 2 lemons, freshly juiced (adjust amount to taste-but keep in mind the bulgur soaks up the lemon juice and olive oil quite a bit)
  • 3-4 tbs good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste-red pepper flakes, optional for spicy

place all the ingredients other than olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl (leave ingredients in separate piles until ready to toss). if making ahead, cover and set aside until 30 minutes prior to serving, then dress (with lemon juice to taste, evoo, and salt & pepper) toss well. taste and adjust seasoning. enjoy every bite. {see below for green bean salad recipe}

for green bean salad with blood oranges:

blood oranges in salad

  • 2-3 cups organic green beans, cleaned and quickly boiled in lightly salted water until just tender-do not overcook them. drain in a collander and quickly place in an ice bath or rinse with cold water. drain well.
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup crumbled french feta cheese
  • 1-2 blood oranges (or you can use pomegranate seeds), peeled and sectioned into small pieces.
  • 1/4 cup of my shallot vinaigrette

combine ingredients in a bowl, drizzle with dressing, toss just before serving. simple as that.

the dinner table with the famous blood oranges front and center

the dinner table with the famous blood oranges front and center

 

my chicken dish with olives and lemons just getting started (adda's morrocan chicken)

my chicken dish with olives and lemons just getting started (adda’s morrocan chicken)

 

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