Lebanese Mloukhieh (Egyptian Spinach)

Shredded Chicken on Rice with Egyptian Spinach (Molokiah). Serves 4.

Ingredients

For the Chicken

1 1/2 lbs. split bone-in chicken breasts (we use only breast meat- use whatever you prefer)
1 onion, halved
4 cups water
salt and pepper

For the Mloukhieh

1 tbsp olive oil
8 garlic cloves, passed through garlic press (1 head)
1 lb. cilantro, finely chopped (1 large bunch)
1 tsp pepper
salt, to taste
2 lbs. Egyptian Spinach (Molokhia), fresh, canned (2 lg cans) or frozen, very finely chopped. (If using frozen, thaw first and strain; if using fresh, wash leaves well and spread on a towel to dry for several hours or overnight before mincing finely by hand; if using canned, rinse well and strain)
Juice of 1 -2 lemons

For the Dressing

1 red onion, finely diced
1 cup red wine vinegar

For the Rice

Basmati rice, cooked according to package instructions
Toasted thin pita bread

Instructions
  1. In a deep pot, place the chicken, the halved onion, salt and pepper. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer 40 minutes or until cooked. Remove from water and remove meat from bone. Discard skin & bones. Strain and reserve the broth for the mlouhkieh.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the mloukhieh: heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot, add the garlic and cilantro, stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the garlic begins to brown lightly. Add the strained chicken broth and the chopped mloukhieh.
  4. Stir, cover and cook 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Important: do not allow to boil or the stew will coagulate and become inedible. Before serving, stir in lemon juice to taste, starting with 1/2 lemon (if you prefer it very lemony, you can add as much as 2 – 2 1/2 lemons for 2 large cans of mloukhieh).
  5. Carefully split pitas from the edges into 2 round halves [larger diameter (8”- 12”) thinner pita are best for this]. Grill them in the oven till lightly brown and crispy.
  6. In a small bowl, make the dressing by mixing the onions and vinegar. Set aside.
  7. To eat, place hot rice on plate/bowl, top with pita bread crushed into large bite-sized pieces. Ladle mloukhieh (with as much or as little sauce as desired) on top of the bread, cover with shredded chicken and spoon onion/vinegar mixture on top. This is the order we use in our house, but it is up to personal preference. Others prefer to add the pita bread after the chicken, for more crunch.
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