Spinach Stem with Wheat Berries (Buğdaylı Ispanak Kökü)

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The move is finally over and we have been Californians for almost two months now. I am loving the Palo Alto farmer’s markets (who wouldn’t when you can buy a celery root for a dollar!) and cooking a lot; just not blogging. Finally emergence of fresh spinach at the market made it. In Turkey, when you have a bunch of fresh spinach you can cook a variety of different dishes with green spinach leaves: such as “the” spinach dish,   spinach dish known as “the bachelors’ dish”, or delicious börek/phyllo dough dish. Before cooking any of these dishes, you pinch off the stems and save them for other equally scrumptious dishes. They are great in salads, in stir fry, or in avgolemono sauce. The following simple recipe is inspired by the traditional spinach dish or the most common spinach dish, for which you basically stir spinach, onion, and tomatoes with rice. I replaced leaves with stems and rice with soft wheat berries. It is simply delicious. More spinach stem recipes to follow.

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stems of 1 lb spinach
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, grated or diced (if you can find them, if not use 2 tbsp tomato paste or 1 can of diced tomato)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp white sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 c cooked wheat berries (you can substitute wheat berries with brown rice)
1 tsp spicy pepper flakes, if you wish
hot water

-Soak wheat berries in water over nights. The next day wash them well and boil them until soft with lots of water (they soak incredible amount of water)
-Wash the spinach stems well, discard any hard spots at the ends, and cut them into med pieces.
-Heat olive oil in a pot and stir onion and garlic until soft.
-Add tomato and cook for at least 5 minutes.
-Add lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper flakes. Stir once.
-Add spinach stem, and stir for a couple of minutes.
-Add cooked wheat berries, stir, and pour hot water to barely cover everything.
-Cook until spinach stems are soft on low to med.
-Serve warm or cold.

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