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Legumes Pop-up Brings Ethiopian Fare to Farmers’ Market

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First taste

If you love a Southern vegetable plate — four veggies and a roll or cornbread  (the meatless meat-n-three) — let us introduce you to the Ethiopian version. It’s a sampler of nine vegetables and legumes, assembled atop a spongy, slightly sour flatbread called injera. We were excited to find this, and other dishes, being served inside the Market House of the Nashville Farmers’ Market at Grow Local Kitchen. In addition to offering classes and demonstrations, Grow Local Kitchen serves as business incubator for food entrepreneurs.

This particular incubator pop-up is Legumes Vegetarian Ethiopian Restaurant, run by Saba Berhanu and her family. They are preparing dishes that taste fresh and authentic, well-seasoned and generously-portioned. (We believe the dishes are vegan as well.)

There’s a beautiful balance in the variety of the Vegetable Combo (#1 on the menu). Three salads: marinated beet, marinated injera, and romaine with tomatoes and onions in a peppery vinaigrette   Three pulses: red lentils cooked with berbere,  shiro — a lush chickpea-lentil puree, and Kik Alicha, yellow split pea stew. Three vegetables: green beans and carrots, spiced braised cabbage, and greens sauteed with onion and garlic.  Made with a nutrient-rich grain teff, the injera serves as both plate — supporting the colorful array, and utensil — tear off a piece and scoop up the different dishes.  This is one you could share. ($8.99)

We also ordered #6 on the menu, turmeric-tinged rice ladled with a creamy vegetable stew with green peas and red bell peppers, the Kik Alicha stew, sidled by spicy green bean-tomato-carrot sauté and romaine salad ($8.49). Also a delicious step off the eaten path.

Legumes owner and chef Saba Berhanu spoons some Kik Alicha (yellow split-pea stew) onto the injera. (PHOTO: Nancy Vienneau)

Legumes owner and chef Saba Berhanu spoons some Kik Alicha (yellow split-pea stew) onto the injera