Borani Esfenaj is a vegetarian Persian recipe with spinach, walnuts and yogurt. Esfenaj means spinach in Farsi. All the borani dishes in the Persian cuisine are served with yogurt, and Borani Esfenaj is mixed with yogurt before serving. Not too many people are fond of spinach but with all of its vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and iron it is one of the best leafy greens around.
I love spinach in most recipes or just by itself, sauteed or steamed. I like spinach in salads or baked in puff pastry, also blended in my smoothies. Borani Esfanaj gets a lot of wonderful flavor from using fried onions . The walnuts are cooked over medium low heat with the rest of the ingredients and give this dip its crunchy texture. I use two different yogurts in this spinach dip, the regular plain yogurt for its subtle tanginess, and the Greek yogurt for its wonderful creaminess. I have made this recipe in the past using only one of these yogurts, but the combination of the two has a richer texture and taste.
Rinse the pre washed baby spinach leaves and make sure all the water is drained. You don’t have to chop them or remove the stems.
Add all of the spinach to a large stockpot
The leaves will start wilting as you turn them with a spatula
When all the leaves have wilted there will be some liquid in the bottom of the pan.
Add the fried onions and spices
Simmer and stir occasionally
Until most of the liquid is cooked off
Chop walnut halves into pea-sized pieces
Add to the pot and stir
Simmer until it sizzles and there is no liquid left. Remove from the heat and cool for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile small dice and fry a shallot in little oil to use as optional garnish
Enjoy Bornai Esfenaj with slices of toasted sangak, pita, or other crusty breads. This delicious and healthy vegetarian dish makes a great appetizer and side dish, as well as a main meal.
- 1 pound pre washed organic baby spinach leaves
- 2 TBSP vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion thinly sliced and fried, 4 ounces fried onions
- ½ tsp garlic granules
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- ⅛ tsp ground cayenne pepper
- ¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, pea sized
- 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 small shallot, diced small and fried to a crisp golden brown for optional garnish
- 4-5 walnut halves for optional garnish
- Add the pre washed spinach leaves to a large colander and rinse under cold water. Shake the colander several times to make sure all the water is drained.
- Add oil to a 6-Qt stockpot. Add all the spinach to the pot, it will be very full. Do not cover. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Turn the leaves several times with a spatula, until they all wilt. There will be some liquid in the bottom of the pot.
- Add the fried onions, garlic granules, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and cayenne pepper to the wilted spinach and stir to combine. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer without a cover for 10 minutes, or until there is no liquid left in the bottom of the pot.
- Add the chopped walnuts and stir to combine. Cook without a cover over medium low heat for 15 minutes, or until it is sizzling and the walnuts are very crunchy and flavorful. Stir occasionally.
- Remove the pot from heat and cool the spinach and walnut mixture for 30 minutes on the counter.
- Add the plain yogurt and Greek yogurt to spinach mixture and stir to combine.
- The dip can be served immediately or chilled in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Before serving the dip sprinkle optional crispy fried shallots and walnut halves on top. Serve with whole grain bread pieces, pita wedges or French baguette croutons.