As I’ve been trying to learn how to cook more meat and fish, I’ve found myself in an odd conundrum: for the first time, I’ve had to start making distinct side dishes if I want vegetables in my meal. It used to just be that I’d whip up a big bowl of pasta and toss lots of veggies in, but now I actually have to plan what kind of vegetable might go with my protein. It’s weird.

But when I recently decided to make salmon with a za’atar yogurt sauce (based on this recipe), there was no question in my mind what side would go alongside it—this splendid creamy spinach, which is one of my very favorites.  The original recipe claims Turkish origin for this dish; although I never tasted anything like this in Turkey, I’ll stick with that label, because this recipe highlights some of my favorite things about Turkish food—copious use of yogurt and fresh herbs.

Yogurt everywhere.

Turkish spinach with yogurt
Adapted from the New York Times

One thing I love about this recipe: as originally written, it’s a dip, with two cups of yogurt. With less yogurt, it’s more of a side dish.

1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
2 garlic cloves
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (more to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, or 1 teaspoon dried mint
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 bunch scallions, chopped (optional)

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Place spinach in a large bowl. When water comes to boil, pour over spinach; stir spinach in bowl until bright green and wilted. Drain spinach and rinse with cool water. When cool, squeeze dry and chop coarsely.

Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and mash to a paste, or mince finely. Combine with the lemon juice and olive oil, and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the yogurt.

Combine spinach and herbs, then stir in yogurt-garlic mixture and optional scallions. Salt to taste.

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