Hindbeh - Dandelion Greens with Caramelized Onions
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
Hindbeh: A Palestinian and Lebanese Delicacy
Health experts say we should eat like our grandparents and for good reason–our ancestors not only ate whole unprocessed foods, they intuitively knew how to combine and prepare foods for maximum nutrient absorption. Take for example this popular Palestinian/Lebanese dish of braised dandelion greens called Hindbeh. In this case, the bitter greens, a rich source of iron, are paired with lemon juice and olive oil. The vitamin C in the lemons assists with iron absorption while taking out the bitterness of the greens. The fat from the olive oil helps the body absorb vitamins A, C, and K, and it just so happens that most greens are rich in these exact vitamins. So not only does this ingredient combination make bitter greens more palatable, but it also makes the nutrients more bioavailable.
Another technique in cooking these greens is to parboil them first. Most people think boiling vegetables leaches out the nutrition, but actually the reality is the opposite. Most dark leafy greens contain oxalates, or organic compounds that prevent the body from absorbing the nutrients. The science shows that oxalates bind to minerals and block their absorption. So when you eat a plate of greens, the oxalates will eliminate the minerals from your body so you won’t get the benefits. This explains why many vegans complain of becoming anemic, despite eating tons of iron rich greens. Boiling the greens for just 5 to 10 minutes will remove a good amount of oxalates, preventing the flushing out of all of the vitamins and minerals
So, to go back to my ancestors, my great Aunt Bahieh, who was born in the early 1900s, would follow this exact method to make her dandelion greens. This is the way Palestinians have been preparing dandelion greens for centuries. Dandelion greens make a great substitute for spinach, kale or Swiss chard when you want to mix your greens up a bit, as they have an earthy, nutty and pleasingly bitter taste, similar to endive or radicchio.
Sweet caramelized onions and garlic add another depth of flavor to balance out any bitterness. As a child, I didn’t think twice about eating these lemony greens as they were buttery, sweet, and tart all at once. You can eat these greens plain as a side dish, or tuck them into a sandwich with middle eastern spreads like Labneh cheese or hummus. You can also mix these greens with quinoa and feta cheese for the main course.
How to Make Hindbeh: Video and Recipe:
To see how to pick optimal greens from the market and how to prepare this dish, click on the video below:
1 pound greens, trimmed, washed and chopped
You can substitute other greens too like collard or mustard greens,as well as kale, spinach or Swiss chard.
1 large onion, finely chopped
2- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp sumac
3 tbsp. of fruity extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one large lemon
Remove any yellow leaves from dandelion. Wash well then finely chop. Bring water to a boil in a pot, and then add the dandelion greens and boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Drain and rinse in cold water, then squeeze until dry. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, then add the onions. Sauté for about 4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 1 more minute. Add the greens and sauté for about 2 minutes.. Add the lemon juice, sumac, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired, and serve warm or cold.
Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, host of the YouTube cooking show called Feast in the Middle East and cookbook author. For more authentic and classical Middle Eastern recipes, you can now purchase her brand new cookbook: “Feast in the Middle East, A Personal Journey of Family and Cuisine” by clicking HERE:https://secure.mybookorders.com/Orderpage/2189
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