Chickpea Shami with Lime and Saffron Glaze

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Shami is kotlet’s cousin: an Iranian meat patty that’s delicious on its own or with bread, comfort food that comes in all sorts of variations. My mom makes these the traditional and labor-intensive way with braised and shredded lamb shank combined with yellow split peas. When it comes to Iranian food, I’m nowhere near as good a cook as her, but my version, albeit easier and not the same, still hit the spot.

Chickpea shami with lime and saffron glaze

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef, lamb or turkey
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup chickpea powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

1. Place the lamb in a large mixing bowl. In a food processor, place the onion, carrots, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and turmeric, and pulse until you have a grainy paste. Transfer to the mixing bowl, add the chickpea flour, and knead with your hands until all of it has been absorbed. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat until hot. Shape the lamb mixture into 3 inch-patties, gently poking a hole in the middle of each. Place the patties in the pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.

3. To make the glaze, in a small bowl, combine the water, sugar, lime juice, saffron mixture, and remaining salt in a small bowl. Pour the glaze over the patties in the pan once they have cooked through. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until the sauce has been absorbed. Serve warm or at room temperature on their own, or with flatbread, fresh herbs, and yogurt.

Iranian Herb, Kidney Bean, and Lamb Braise (Khoresh-e Ghormeh Sabzi)

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Is there any dish as beloved by Iranians as this green braise of herbs, dried limes, and lamb? (Okay, maybe chelo kabab). Ghormeh sabzi is nearly everyone’s favorite #uglydelicious khoresh, and for good reason. All fenugreek all day every day.

Some cooks like to grind their dried limes, but I usually leave them whole for this dish. It’s just personal preference.

Khoresh-e ghormeh sabzi (Iranian herb, kidney bean, and lamb braise)

Ingredients:

For the lamb:
2 tablespoons oil or ghee
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, cut into 2 or 3-inch pieces
3/4 cup kidney beans, soaked in water overnight, drained and rinsed
6 dried Persian limes, pierced

For the herbs:
2 tablespoons oil or ghee
3 cups finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely chopped green onions or Persian chives (tareh)
1 bunch spinach, finely chopped
1/4 cup dried fenugreek leaves or 1 cup chopped fresh fenugreek

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1. To cook the lamb: Heat oil in a large laminated cast-iron pot over medium heat and saute the onions and garlic until lightly golden. Add salt, pepper, and turmeric and saute for 1 minute. Add the lamb and saute for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

2. Add the kidney beans and dried limes and saute for 1 minute. Pour in 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Prepare the herbs: In a wide skillet, heat oil over medium heat and saute the parsley, green onions, spinach, and fenugreek for 20 minutes, stirring until the aroma of the herbs rises. Be very careful to not burn the herbs.

4. Add sauteed herbs and lime juice to the pot. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

5. Check to see if meat and beans are tender. Adjust seasoning if needed by adding more salt or lime juice to taste. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve. Serve with steamed basmati rice.

Tangy Pomegranate Hummus

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I suck at making hummus. There, I said it. For reasons unbeknownst to me, every attempt I’ve ever made has resulted in “this is kinda good but the store-bought version tastes so much better”-style hummus.

Until I stumbled upon my secret ingredient: pomegranate molasses.

Sweet-and-sour pomegranate molasses took my hummus-making attempts from okay-ish to “wow, this is actually really delicious and I would like moar now, pls.” Pomegranate molasses might be more at home in Iranian-style braises than Levant-style hummus, but hey, it works.

Just don’t talk to me about chocolate hummus. Even I draw the line at that.

Tangy pomegranate hummus

Ingredients:

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/3 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon harissa paste
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
Salt
Olive oil, Aleppo pepper, and warm pita bread, for serving

1. Set aside 2 teaspoons chickpeas for serving. Process tahini, lemon juice, harissa, pomegranate molasses, and remaining chickpeas in a food processor, adding water as needed, until hummus is very smooth; season with salt.

2. Serve hummus drizzled with oil and topped with Aleppo pepper and reserved chickpeas, with warm pita bread.

Maple-Turkey Bacon Popovers

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Looking for a carby, sweet-and-savory side dish for your holiday meal this year? I got you. These popovers are easier to make than they look, and they taste oh-so-decadent: airy and eggy and glazed with a healthy brushing of maple syrup (our household is, after all, partly Canadian).

You can use regular bacon here but I love turkey bacon. Really. Don’t @ me.

Maple-Turkey Bacon Popovers

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped turkey bacon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup maple syrup, plus more for brushing
4 eggs, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high and cook chopped bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Allow drippings to cool in skillet; pour into a small heatproof bowl.

2. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter to drippings; stir to combine. Spoon 1 teaspoon drippings mixture into each cup of a 12-cup large muffin pan. Place pan in oven to heat, being careful not to let the drippings burn.

3. Stir together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together milk, maple syrup, eggs, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large bowl. Gradually whisk flour mixture into egg mixture until nearly smooth; fold in bacon. Transfer batter to a large spouted measuring cup.

4. Carefully remove hot muffin pan from oven. Pour batter into muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake in preheated oven until popovers are puffed and golden brown, about 18 minutes. Lightly brush tops with additional maple syrup. Remove from pan and serve.

Crepes with Caramelized Bananas, Whiskey, and Walnuts

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These sweet and sticky bananas are begging to be piled atop fresh crepes for a decadent weekend brunch. Fortified with whiskey and walnuts, this dish is a pinch to make, especially if you cook the crepes ahead of time.

Crepes with caramelized bananas, whiskey, and walnuts

Ingredients:

One quantity crepes from this crepe recipe (minus the dark chocolate sauce)
2 tablespoons avocado or other neutral oil
5 bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whiskey (bourbon works well here)
1/2 cup walnuts

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bananas, cut side down, and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top. Cook bananas until heated through and sugar is melted, about 5 minutes. Add whiskey and flip bananas over. Add the walnuts and cook until the bananas are caramelized and the whiskey has reduced to a syrup. Serve over crepes.