Monday, June 11, 2012

Spring Yemiser W'et

Weekend Highlights:

1. I am officially on summer vacation! Well, until I start teaching summer school on the 18th.

2. Had a lovely visit with my friend and second mother, Sally.

3. Ate handfuls of the most delicious granola I have ever tasted at Sally’s house, only to find out the next day that it was food for her parrot. Nice!

4. Took a leisurely sunset walk along the orchards and the cow pasture in Sally’s farm… my old stomping grounds. I lived in this beautiful piece of heaven on Earth for two years with the most generous and kindest people I hold dearly in my heart, Bill and Sally.

5. Drove towards Western Washington and then back home for a total of five hours, all the while feasting my eyes on breathtaking views of green hills and trees! Oh so many trees! Living in Eastern Washington leaves you in awe of anything green.

6. Bought torchetti, donuts, and a loaf of wheat bread at Cle Elum Bakery, bought sausages and bacon at Glondo’s Sausage Company, and bought some pepperoni and beef jerky at Owens Meats. As if those stops were not enough, I couldn’t help but get off the freeway to check out these markets in Thorp to window shop, buy cherries, and peas.

It would have been a total letdown if I didn’t stop at my favorite bakery… Vinman’s in Ellensburg. All their breads are great and I had the toughest time deciding what to get. I finally settled for a whole grain and a rustic sourdough. What can I say, nothing beats a good sourdough, or in my case, two!

7. Baked Deb’s Rhubarb Snacking Cake on Sunday morning. A perfect start to my day!

8. Got started on some packing (we’re moving to a new apartment!). I was not quite sure where to start exactly… but managed to get some shoes and winter clothes in bags and some books in boxes.

9. Squeezed in a couple of runs, a yoga class, and a bike ride with DFJ.

10. Cooked an Ethiopianish dish for dinner, thanks to Food Matters Project Monday! Thank you Lena for choosing a very diverse dish, Braised Chickpea Fritters and Vegetables. To see the original recipe, check out Lena’s lovely blog. Also, don’t forget to see other FMP members’ versions of this recipe!  

My take on this recipe is quite different from the original since I was out of town and did not have time to buy the required ingredients. I made my own version of Yemiser W’et and will call it Spring Yemiser W’et: with lentils, leeks, mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, and some spices. Bittman fries the chickpeas and I tried to do the same with my lentils but gave up after one fritter did not hold together well… I’m glad I did because although the crunch was good, the oil was a little bit too much for me.

In the summer of 2009, I worked as a nanny for two adorable kids in Seattle. Their family introduced me to Ethiopian food and I fell in love with it as soon as I had my first handful of doro wat folded in a piece of injera. Flavorful, spicy chicken with the spongy, sour pancake was too delicious for words. Since then, I have had Ethiopian dishes made by my friend, Barb, who adopted the cutest girl from Ethiopia and I have also made Ethiopian food at home, including my own injera, from a starter given by Barb.

If you are in Seattle or Portland and have a craving for Ethiopian food, visit Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant (Seattle) and Bete-Lukas Ethiopian Restaurant (Portland). They have great, authentic, Ethiopian food!

There are no fancy words to describe this Spring Yemiser W’et, it is delightfully simple, yet so flavorful and filling. My only regret was being too lazy to make some injera from the starter sitting in our refrigerator.

Spring Yemiser W’et

1 cup yellow lentils
2½ cups vegetable broth (preferably homemade)
1 bay leaf
about 4 pieces of 2-inch, dark green leek stalks (for additional flavor)

¼ tsp all-spice, ground
¼ tsp smoked paprila
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cardamom, ground
¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, diced roughly
1 carrot, diced
handful of asparagus, diced
cooked lentils
4 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp coriander
salt, to taste

Put vegetable broth, lentils, bay leaf, and leek stalks in a medium size pot. Turn the heat on to medium and let boil. When the broth comes to a rolling boil, lower the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid partially open for about 40 minutes, or until done.

Meanwhile, prepare all the spices: all-spice, paprika, cayenne, turmeric, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the garlic until it turns a nice, golden brown. Toss in the leeks and cook until soft and limp, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir until soft and spongy, about 2 minutes. Throw in the carrots and asparagus and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in all the spices and salt for 2 minutes.

Add the lentils and all that is left of the broth into the pan and stir with the vegetables for about 2 minutes. Mix in tomato paste and stir for 2 minutes. Throw in the coriander and a little bit more salt to taste and cook for 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat and serve warm.

Best with injera. However, good sourdough will do (that’s what I did). Flatbread and rice (as per Bittman’s suggestion) or flour tortillas would be great with this too.


  1. I need to make injera myself one day, this is something still on my to-try list. I love your take on the yemiser wet, adding spring vegetables sounds like a great idea.

  2. Great twist Margarita - looking forward to seeing your post next week too!

  3. Love what you did this week!

  4. I saw that rhubarb snacking cake. Looks really good. Wonderful looking dish. I need to find new ways to use lentils. Sounds like you had a fun filled weekend :)

  5. sounds like a fabuolous-o weekend!!! I've been meaning to make that rhubarb cake. Swoon.

    I've never heard of this dish before but it's filled with all my favorite spices! Need to try.

  6. Haha, what a well fed parrot! That made me laugh so hard
    Always the busy one! Well at least you get a little break from work.
    This dish looks delicious by the way. The combination of ingredients sound delicious!

  7. Oooooh, I like what you did here! That sounds delicious!

  8. I love lentils with spices and I can just imagine the flavors.

  9. Looks yummy. I'm in Seattle, so "Thanks" for the restaurant suggestion!

  10. Looks delicious! My fritters weren't holding up so well either- maybe they were too big? I've made other one's (with lentils) and they seemed to work well. As for Ethiopian food, I tried it for the first time when I moved here to DC- and I love it. My fiance is not as big of a fan, but I sneak it in once in a while with some girlfriends!

  11. Sounds like a fun trip! I have to try my hand at injera bread sometime soon. Loooove Ethiopian food :)


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