One of the simplest Middle Eastern stews to make, this Lebanese spinach stew is made with spiced ground beef, frozen spinach, and a squeeze of lemon juice. It’s so easy and healthy, and kids love it too!
What is Lebanese spinach stew?
It’s a dish made very simply with spiced beef that’s cooked with garlic and onions to which an abundance of spinach is added until cooked down. It’s saucy and full of flavor, and finished off with lemon juice. The base of the stew is the same spiced beef we use in a lot of our recipes, like: Lebanese Rice , Ouzi, and Macarona billaban (Middle Eastern Pasta in yogurt sauce)
Ingredients in spinach stew:
Meat: The beef is made by cooking it with onion and garlic, and is seasoned with seven spices (or all spice), salt and pepper.
I love when I have frozen beef that’s already been cooked and seasoned. This way, I can use it directly in the recipe. For full instructions on cooking and freezing, definitely check out this recipe:
You can use fresh or frozen spinach for this. I’ve done it both ways, they both taste great. For convenience sakes, I usually prefer frozen spinach. It requires a lot less effort, and a lot less spinach! You’d need about 2kg or 5 pounds of fresh spinach to get the amount needed in this recipe, a You’d have to wash and stem the spinach, then add it to the pot at the same step as you would the frozen spinach. Another advantage of frozen spinach is not having to thaw it in advance. You just need to add the frozen spinach directly to the pot and the heat will quickly melt it.
Do I add water to the spinach? If using fresh spinach, you’ll most likely need to add a little water or broth, about 1/2 cup to 1 cup. When I use frozen spinach I never find myself needing to add extra liquid because using the frozen spinach before thawing it lets off so much water.
Chickpeas: This is completely optional, but I like to take a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse it thoroughly then add them to the stew. They just need to warm through with the spinach.
Some people like adding toasted pine nuts – I don’t do that but I love pine nuts so I don’t see how you could go wrong with that!
Lemon Juice: A generous squeeze of lemon juice really brightens up the flavor of the spinach. Add as much or as little as you like, tasting as you season. That goes for salt and pepper to, taste and adjust!
Why is Lebanese spinach stew so good?
Because it’s tasty, extremely easy to prepare and so good FOR you. You get a great protein source from the meat and chickpeas if using, and plenty of iron and vitamins from the spinach. The thing is, this stew defies all odds and manages to be so kid friendly. My kids love slurping this down, adding lots of extra sauce so that their rice is swimming in it a little.
What to serve with Lebanese Spinach Stew:
Vermicelli rice is the classic pairing. It’s the perfect vessel to soak up all that lemony goodness. I have an entire step by step post on how to make the perfect vermicelli rice here. You can also go with plain rice, jasmine rice, or brown rice. I usually put just a little scoop of rice in my bowl and ladle on the spinach stew so that I don’t go overboard on carbs.
Lebanese Spinach Stew
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250-350 g ground beef 1/2 pound
- 1/2 tsp seven spices or allspice
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt, more to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 2 bags frozen chopped spinach , 400 g each total 28 oz
- 1 lemon, juiced
- vermicelli rice, to serve
- Start by cooking the beef. In a large pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the diced onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened, stirring continuously.
- Add the crushed garlic, and cook for a further minute or so, then add the ground beef.
- Cook for a minute, breaking apart any clumps of meat with a wooden spoon, then add all the spices (seven spice or all spice, cinnamon, salt and black pepper). Continue cooking, a good 6-8 minutes until beef is all cooked through and brown with no pink bits remaining.
- Keep stirring and breaking apart clumps of meat- you can even use a potato masher to break the meat apart a little. If desired, drain any extra fat. Taste the mince and adjust for seasoning.
- Add the frozen packs of spinach directly into the pan with the cooked beef. Let the spinach soften in the heat, and then keep it on the heat till its completely cooked through. If it isn't saucy enough, add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water or broth. I always find that the spinach releases plenty of liquid and I don't need to add any extra. Add the drained chickpeas and cook for a couple minutes more.
- Squeeze 1/2-1 lemon into the spinach, taste the spinach, and season with any extra salt or pepper if you think it needs it. Enjoy hot, over vermicelli or plain rice.
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