Nargessi Esfanaj (Persian Spinach and Eggs)

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Since my son started crawling  a few months ago my culinary world has been turned upside down! Not content to sit still for more than 5 minutes, my son requires that I spend most of my day on my hands and knees chasing after him.  I find myself either cooking or prepping during his afternoon nap or making super speedy dinners during the very short time he will  bounce contentedly in his exersaucer.

It is for this reason that a recipe like Nargessi Esfanaj is a godsend! This dish takes little prep work and can be made in no time flat. And the icing on the cake is that it’s extremely healthy providing you with a mega dose of leafy greens and protein.

Delicate poached eggs on a bed of sauteed spinach, garlic and golden onions, Nargessi gets it’s name from the Narcissus flower (known in Farsi as Nargess). The Narcissus flower is white with a yellow centre which is the egg and the spinach is likened to the grassy meadow where the flowers bloom. Poetic huh?

Nargessi Esfanaj
(serves 2-4)

canola or olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
10 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
4 large eggs
salt and pepper

In a large (preferably non-stick) frying pan heat 3 tbsp of canola or olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute for 8 minutes. Then add the minced garlic. and saute for another 2-3 minutes or until the onions are lightly golden. Add the turmeric and saute for another minute.

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Add another tbsp of olive oil and half the spinach to the pan and when it starts to wilt add the other half of the spinach. Saute for about five minutes or until the spinach is wilted but still bright green. Season with about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper.

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Spread the spinach mixture evenly in the pan and crack four eggs on top. Cover the pan (if you do not have a lid, you can cover with foil)  Turn the heat down to medium low and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the whites are just set (or to your own liking). Season with more salt and pepper to your own taste.

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Serve with toasted bread, pita or barbarry. You can also serve this with steamed rice. Enjoy!

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Khorest-e Esfanaj (Persian Beef, Spinach and Dried Plum Stew)

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Sleep – how I miss thee. A full nights sleep has become a distant memory for me. Coffee has become my best friend. Life with a teething four-month old and an energetic four-year old lends to little rest. It would be safe to say that I’ve been a little run down lately!

Therefore, I thought I’d prepare something delicious and nutrient rich to help keep me and my family healthy and energized. Khorest-e Esfanaj is the perfect remedy to exhaustion. A nourishing stew of braised beef with spinach, golden onions, and dried plums, this dish is loaded with protein, iron, B vitamins, zinc, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A and fibre. This stew could be the next best thing to a double shot of espresso in keeping your energy up!

Khorest-e Esfanaj
(Serves 4-6)

3 tbsp canola oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
1 lb stewing beef, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 lbs fresh spinach (approx 4 bags), washed, well dried and coarsely chopped or torn.
1/2 cup chopped chives
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups pitted dried plums (prunes)
juice of one lime
salt & pepper

In a large pot (or Dutch Oven), heat the canola oil over medium heat. Fry the onions, stirring occasionally until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric and fry for another minute.

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Turn the heat up slightly to medium-high and add the beef to the pot. Brown the beef well on all sides, about 5-10 minutes.

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Add the spinach and chives to the pot (you might have to add the spinach in batches until it wilts down). Cook for about 5-10 minutes until all the spinach is wilted.

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Add the chicken broth, lime juice, prunes, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

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Serve with steamed basmati rice. Enjoy!