Norooz, or Iranian New Year, means a few things: joyous gatherings with family, spring cleaning, and the celebration of the vernal equinox. Norooz is also about food: fresh fish, rice pilafs and frittatas redolent with herbs and spring greens to celebrate renewal and rebirth, desserts to ring in a sweet new year, and my favorite: ash-e reshteh.
Ash-e reshteh is traditionally served on the new year, with the noodles symbolizing good fortune. My mom’s ash-e reshteh is my favorite and this year, I finally learned how to cook it. Chock-full of reshteh (special Iranian noodles), kashk (a fermented dairy product similar to whey), loads of herbs like parsley, spinach, and green onions, legumes, dried mint, and garlic, there’s no substituting here. Get thee to an Iranian grocery and make this delicious, meal-in-a-bowl soup to celebrate the coming of warmer weather and new beginnings.
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, cooked, and cooled
10-12 cups water
1 cup lentils, cooked and cooled
1 pound Iranian noodles (reshteh)
1 tablespoon flour
2 bunches chopped green onions
2 bunches chopped parsley
2 pounds chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups liquid kashk
4 tablespoons dried mint, crushed
1. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large pot and sautee the onions and garlic over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and turmeric. Once golden, set aside 1/3 of onion mixture for garnish. Leave the remaining onion mixture in the pot and add lentils and chickpeas; saute for a few minutes. In the meantime, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a separate small saucepan and once hot, add the dried mint and quickly saute for 1 minute, being careful not to let it burn. Remove from heat and set aside for garnish.
2. Pour in 10 cups of water and bring to a boil, then add all of the greens, bring to a boil again, reduce the heat, and cook on low, covered, for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the noodles to the pot and cook for about 15 minutes, covered, on low heat, stirring occasionally. At this stage, add one teaspoon of the reserved dried mint oil garnish to the pot.
4. In the meantime, mix 1 cup cold water and the flour in a small bowl and drizzle the mixture into the pot of soup, stirring. Cook for 20 minutes, covered, on low heat, stirring occasionally.
5. Stir in the kaskh, setting aside a dollop or two for the garnish. Mix the kaskh in the pot well.
6. To serve, pour the hot soup into a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved onion and garlic mixture, reserved dried mint mixture, and reserved kashk.
I’ve been experimenting with more Middle Eastern flavors in my cooking lately and this salad is a riff on California meets Iran. What’s more Californian than arugula and citrus and what’s more Iranian than dates, mint, and pistachios?
I was iffy on how well citrus and dates would pair in a dressing the first time I made this, but the results were stellar. A little bit sweet, a little bit sour, you’ll want seconds of this salad.
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 cup mandarins, peeled and segments cut in half
1/2 cup pitted dates, thinly sliced, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 Belgian endives, sliced
6 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons mint leaves, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup toasted pistachios
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1 cup)
1. Whisk together olive oil, sherry vinegar, orange juice, shallot, and 1 tablespoon dates. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Place mandarins and remaining dates in a large bowl. Reserve and set aside 6 tablespoons vinaigrette. Drizzle remaining vinaigrette over mandarin mixture, and, using your hands, pull dates apart into individual slices. Add endives, arugula, parsley, mint, and remaining vinaigrette; toss to coat.
3. To serve, garnish with pistachios and shaved Parmesan cheese.
Caesar salad recipes are a dime a dozen but I crave this one because it’s lighter and crunchier than your standard Caesar. Plus, it’s perfect for the winter when there’s not much in season save cruciferous vegetables.
2 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1 head of broccoli (about 1 pound)
1/4 head of cabbage, thinly sliced (optional)
Finely grated lemon zest, for serving
Black pepper, for serving
1. Using the side of a heavy knife, mash anchovies and garlic on a cutting board until a paste forms. Transfer paste to a large bowl and whisk in lemon juice, mustard, and salt to taste. Add mayonnaise and whisk until smooth. Gradually add oil, whisking until emulsified. Stir in grated Parmesan.
2. Trim woody ends from broccoli stems, preserving the stem. Peel thick stems to expose tender inner cores and thinly slice. Cut off florets and break into bite-size pieces. Add to bowl with dressing. Add cabbage, if using, to bowl with broccoli. Toss until broccoli and cabbage are combined and evenly coated with dressing. Let sit at least 10 minutes.
3. Top salad with more Parmesan, some lemon zest, and pepper.
This recipe combines two of my favorite ingredients into something that’s so much more than the sum of its parts. Meaty mushrooms and creamy eggs are the canvas for a spicy, savory sauce that coat these unique parcels. Toasted pine nuts add extra depth. You can have these for brunch, or prepare them for a light dinner like I do. They’re #uglydelicious.
For the sauce:
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
For the omelet:
3 portobello mushrooms
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
3 green onions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
7 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced
8 button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
10 snow peas, trimmed and sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1. Prepare the sauce: stir the soy sauce, oyster sauce, water, and chili garlic sauce together in a small saucepan and set aside.
2. Remove and discard the stems from the portobello mushrooms. Scrape the gills from the underside of the caps and discard the gills. Thinly slice the caps.
3. Whisk the eggs and water together in a bowl.
4. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil. Pour about 1/3 cup of the egg mixture into the pan, tilting the pan so the egg coats the bottom, and cook until the bottom of the omelet is set, about 1 minute. Slide the omelet onto a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture, adding oil to the skillet as needed, to make six omelets.
5. Heat the sauce over medium heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
6. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and all the mushrooms and stir-fry until the mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the snow peas, pine nuts, soy sauce, and oyster sauce and cook until the snow peas are tender, about 2 minutes.
7. To serve, spoon one-sixth of the mushroom mixture onto the bottom third of one of the omelets. Gently roll the omelet up like a burrito, leaving the ends open and placing on a serving platter seam side down. Repeat with the remaining omelets and filling. Spoon the sauce over them and serve immediately.