Pxali is a general term used to describe this dish, which can be made from a variety of vegetables but is always bound by a rich walnut paste. Pxali can be red from the use of beet leaves, green if spinach is used, or white if young cabbage leaves are chosen. Pxali can be made from virtually any vegetable, but spinach is used in this recipe, as it is traditional. Pxali should resemble a thick mass, which can be used as a side dish at dinner or a main dish for lunch served with lavash or other bread.
This dip is best made a day ahead, as the spices work their magic and the flavors develop even more fully.
- 3 cups California walnuts
- 1 pound spinach leaves (available in supermarkets, bagged and ready to use)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/3 cup water, plus more if needed
- 2 tablespoons red wine or white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek*
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon chili flakes or red pepper flakes (the more used, the spicier the dip will be)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
- 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- Salt to taste
- Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
- Flat-leafed parsley sprigs, for garnish
- Crisp flat bread or crackers, or a rustic country-style bread, thinly sliced, for serving
*Ground mustard seed can be substituted. Fenugreek can be found in ethnic markets.
- In a food processor, chop the walnuts finely until they are the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Transfer the walnuts to a large bowl.
- Put the spinach in a large pot, cover tightly and cook over moderate heat, stirring once or twice, until the leaves are wilted. (Alternately, microwave the spinach in a covered bowl until wilted.) Rinse the spinach with cold water, to cool it and stop the cooking. A handful at a time, squeeze the moisture out of the spinach.
- Chop the spinach finely in the food processor as well, and add to the walnuts. Stir in the garlic and water. Add the vinegar, coriander, fenugreek, chili flakes, cilantro and parsley to the mixture and blend thoroughly. Season with salt to taste. If it seems too thick add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve a dip-like consistency. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Serve with flat bread or crackers, or with a thinly sliced rustic loaf.