Serves 4-6 as a starter, or as part of a mezze, accompanied by crusty bread, olives and yoghurt or cheese

This unpretentious Damascene dish is a typically rural meal. In the country, the concept of food is not so much what goes on the plate as what the economy allows. Spinach is not just full of flavour. It is also nutritious, low in fat and rich in iron, and its high levels of carotenoids help to strengthen the immune system. Squeezing over some lemon juice will enhance the absorption of the iron.

This unpretentious Damascene dish is a typically rural meal. In the country, the concept of food is not so much what goes on the plate as what the economy allows. Spinach is not just full of flavour. It is also nutritious, low in fat and rich in iron, and its high levels of carotenoids help to strengthen the immune system. Squeezing over some lemon juice will enhance the absorption of the iron.

100ml extra virgin olive oil
450g onions, finely sliced
1 whole head of garlic, slivered
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1kg spinach, rinsed several times and roughly sliced
1 1/ 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
pinch of white pepper
140g broad beans, frozen or freshly skinned (optional)
60-90ml lemon juice
1 teaspoon pomegranate syrup (optional)
To garnish
A large handful of pomegranate seeds

Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Do not allow to smoke. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat for five to seven minutes or until golden, then add the garlic and sauté for a further three minutes. Remove a little under half the amount of the onion mixture and reserve for the garnish.

Add the coriander to the remaining onion in the pan, stir and add the spinach in batches, adding more as the spinach reduces in size, until a little liquid appears.

Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, add the beans, if using, cover and simmer over low heat for 10-12 minutes.

Check the liquid content after seven minutes and, if there is too much, turn the heat up to medium.

Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice with the pomegranate syrup, cover and allow enough time for the flavours to blend before serving.

Garnish with the remaining onions and garlic and the pomegranate seeds. Eat warm or at room temperature with bread.

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