A cool, refreshing dip made from Lambs Quarters, yogurt, herbs and spices. Adding ¼ cup freshly cracked and chopped black or English walnuts can be a nice variation.
Keyword: Borani Esfenaj, Lamb's Quarters
10oztender top clusters of lambsquarters(approximately 1 generous cup steamed, cooked and chopped Lamb's Quarters.)
½teaspoonfresh ground cumin
1large clove garlicminced or grated on a microplane
2tablespoonsextra virgin olive oil
1/8-1/4teaspooncrushed red pepper flakesto taste, or a dash of hot sauce
1-1.5cupsThick Greek yogurt, unflavored Highest fat content you can find
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Zest and juice of one small lemon(Juice is optional-see note)
1.5ozVery thinly sliced fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems (roughly half a bunch) or a mix of cilantro and fresh dill, or fresh mint, or another combination of tender herbs you like.
A few chive, onion, or wild flowersto garnish, optional
Wash the Lamb's Quarters if you have any reason to suspect they’re dirty. Working in batches if needed, steam the Lamb's Quarters until tender (cook them a little longer than usual as this needs to be spreadable) then cool naturally spread out on a baking sheet. Chop the greens medium-fine and reserve, making sure to chop up any stems.
In a small pan, heat the oil with the garlic*(see note) on medium heat until the garlic is starting to brown around the edges and is aromatic, about 5 minutes. Swirl the pan occasionally to promote even browning.
Add the cumin to the pan, turn the heat off, and swirl to allow the garlic to continue cooking with the residual heat. Add the cumin and crushed red pepper to the garlic and stir. Do not allow the garlic to burn. If you're unsure about the color, go lighter as opposed to darker.
Scrape the garlic-cumin-chili oil onto the Lambs Quarters, then add the remaining ingredients, mix well, taste and adjust the seasoning for lemon juice and zest* (see note), salt, and herbs, then continue tasting and adjusting the seasoning as needed until it tastes good to you. I like it with just a hint of spicy heat.
How much yogurt?
I found anywhere from 1-1.5 cups of yogurt can work. I suggest adding it until you like the consistency and it looks like dip to you, with 1.5 cups being the maximum amount of yogurt. It should be easy and pleasurable to spread.
Serve cold or tepid with pita chips or another vehicle, garnished with a few chive, onion, or ramp flowers.
Alternate plating "Fun in the Garden Remix"
For a showstopping presentation, spread the dip out onto a flat plate using a serving spoon dipped in cool water, forming it into a thick mat about 1/2 inch tall. Build a little garden of young shoots, plants and flowers on the top and listen to the oohs and aaahs as it comes to the table.
*Grating the garlic on a microplane grater will give you the strongest flavor and cook the fastest here. *If you want to make the dish ahead of time, add the lemon juice right before serving to keep the green color bright. When, and if you add the lemon juice, the “darkening timer” will start, and the dip will lose its green luster after a few hours. You will get some tang from the yogurt alone, so let your taste buds guide you-but don’t skip the zest!
Varying the flavors
Instead the cumin I use here, a combination of a few scrapes of nutmeg and grated fresh ginger is also good.