Sunday, March 10, 2019

A Georgian Salad Duo: Ispanakhis Pkhali and Charkhlis Mkhali #EattheWorld


We're at the end of the first quarter of 2019! Time is flying by. Our #EattheWorld project, being spearheaded by Evelyne of CulturEatz, is a lively group of adventurous cooks and eaters. You can read more about the challenge.


And this month she has us traveling by tabletop to Georgia, the country, not the state in the United States! Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, and bordered by the Black Sea in the west, Russia to the north, and Turkey and Armenia to the south.

Its cuisine reflects influences from Middle Eastern and European culinary traditions, utilizing a wide variety of herbs and spices...and nuts. I loved that many of the recipes featured nuts. While we didn't have time for a supra, or feast, during this dinner, I can get behind a tradition where a large assortment of dishes is prepared, copious amounts of wine are poured, and the dinner can last for hours. There's also the prized role of the tamada, or toastmaster. I'll have to give some thought as to who gets that role...when I get around to hosting a supra of my own.

The Virtual #EatTheWorld Supra

A Georgian Salad Duo
We have cooked from Georgia before, making Soko Arazhanit (Mushrooms in Cream) and Kartopili Nigvzit (Potatoes with Walnuts). Churchkhela was an involved sweet that required days of dipping and drying! And Herbed Khachapuri - the cheese bread you'll find everywhere in Georgia - is on our table at least once a month.


But, for this event, I was intrigued by Khmeli Suneli, a Georgian spice blend, and different ways to use it. I whipped up a batch of the spices and used them in three different dishes; I'm sharing two here: a Georgian salad duo of Ispanakhis Pkhali and Charkhlis Mkhali.

Ispanakhis Pkhali

Pkhali is a traditional Georgian that consists of finely chopped vegetables that are almost to dip consistency and may use everything from cabbage, eggplant, beans, and spinach all mixed with ground nuts and spices. I leaned towards the spinach version, ispanakhis pkhali, and added in the beet greens from the second dish I was making.


Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh greens (I used a mixture of beet greens and spinach)
  • 8 ounces pecans (traditional is walnut, but my husband's tongue gets tingly when he eats too many)
  • 1 C fresh herbs, chopped (I used a mixture of parsley and cilantro)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 T vinegar (I used a red wine vinegar)
  • 4 T oil (I used a mixture of olive and hazelnut)
  • 2 t Khmeli Suneli
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • pomegranate arils for garnish, optional
  • Also needed: ice, enough to fill a large mixing bowl

Procedure
Place the ice in a mixing bowl and set aside. Blanch the greens in a large pot until softened and bright green. Immediately drain and submerge in ice water to keep them green. 

Once you have all the greens blanched. Drain again and squeeze to extract as much water as you can. Coarsely chop and, in batches, process with the nuts, herbs, and garlic in a food processor. Stir in the spices, oil, and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Just before serving, move the greens to a serving bowl and garnish with pomegranate arils

Charkhlis Mkhali

The Georgian table seems to be filled with a vast array of salads and appetizers. I love that. Similar to the ispanakhis pkhali, this is a vegetable dish mixed with ground nuts and spices. Its texture is less mushy and dip-like. It was a nice addition to our dinner.


Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beets
  • 8 ounces pecans (traditional is walnut, but my husband's tongue gets tingly when he eats too many)
  • 1 C fresh herbs, chopped (I used a mixture of parsley and cilantro)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 T vinegar (I used a red wine vinegar)
  • 4 T oil (I used a mixture of olive and hazelnut)
  • 2 t Khmeli Suneli
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut off the beet greens and scrub the beets clean. Place the whole beets on a parchment paper or silicone mat-lined tray and roast until tender.  Mine too approxiately 45 minutes. Allow the beets to cool until you can handle them without wincing. Peel, then grate them.

In a food processor, pulse the pecans, garlic, and herbs together.  Add in the vinegar, oil, and spices and continue to process until you have a thick paste.

In a medium bowl, toss the grated beets with the spiced nut mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. 

4 comments:

  1. I love both of those and can't wait to try. I loved this challenge, so many delicious options.

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  2. Such wonderful recipes! Love the use of all those greens and fresh herbs

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  3. Wonderful dishes to serve at the beginning of the Supra. My dumplings are served at the end of the feast traditionally. This was a fun post and I would love to attend a supra with you.

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  4. I could eat a bowl of that beet salad just on its own - looks delicious! The nuts in there would make it a complete meal. I love beets in any form, and am dying to try this!

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