Yahnera: Braised Greens and Potatoes with Lemon and Herbs

In Crete, sweet and tart greens–tender pea shoots, sow thistle, wild spinach, sorrel, wild leeks—and if available tender fava pods, sweet peas, or a couple of artichokes bottoms and their peeled stems are all braised together with lots of wild fennel fronds. Freshly squeezed lemon juice gives zest to the stew.

The potatoes taste wonderful as they soak up the aromatic juices.

 

The beautiful juicer created by the potter Lorna Meaden.

 

 

Makes 4 servings

 

 

1/2 cup olive oil

 

2 leeks, trimmed, thinly sliced, washed well and drained

 

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

 

4–5 scallions (white and most of the green parts), thickly sliced

 

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed (fronds and tender stalks reserved) and coarsely chopped

 

3–4 medium potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

 

2-3 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into chunks

 

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, preferably freshly ground or crushed in a mortar

 

2 tablespoons ground coriander seeds

 

2 pounds mixed greens: Swiss chard, chicory, spinach, sorrel, or any wild or cultivated, preferably not bitter greens

 

1-2 oregano or thyme sprigs (optional) 

 

1 1/2 cups water

 

1 teaspoons salt or more, to taste

 

Freshly ground black pepper and Aleppo pepper, to taste 

 

1/4 cup or more freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

 

1 cup chopped fennel fronds plus tender stalks, or fresh dill OR a handful coarsely shredded fresh mint

 

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling 

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In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the leeks for 8 minutes, or until soft. Add the onions, scallions, fennel bulb, if using, and potatoes and carrots. Toss with the fennel seeds and coriander and stir to coat with the oil.

 

Cook for about 6 minutes, then add the chopped stems of the greens and cook for another 6 minutes, until the potatoes are almost done. Add the greens which will pile on top of the pan, cover and let them steam and shrink for 1-2 minutes, add the thyme, if using then pour about 1/2 cup wine and toss everything.  

 

Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the water, salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 more minutes, or until the greens and potatoes are tender and most of the juices have evaporated. If the sauce is still too watery, cook for 2 to 3 minutes over high heat to reduce it.

Add 4 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the fennel fronds or dill, as well as half the mint, taste and adjust the seasonings.

 

Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, then sprinkle with the remaining herbs,  and drizzle with fruity olive oil, toss and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

 

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