Caspian-Style Green Salt Salad

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“Green salt” salad doesn’t translate very well, but that’s exactly what it is. Dalar, or namak sabz (“green salt” in Farsi), is an herb-and-salt condiment from Gilan province in northern Iran. I didn’t grow up with this, but rather, I came across a recipe and adapted it to my taste. Blended with olive oil and tossed with Persian cucumbers and crisp apples, it makes a tart and refreshing salad that goes well with any Iranian meal.

Caspian green salt salad

Ingredients:

1 cup mint leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Juice of 2 limes
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 Fuji apples, diced into 1-inch cubes
4 Persian cucumbers, diced into 1-inch cubes

1. Transfer all of the herbs to a food processor and pulse a few times to chop. Add the salt and process until you have a grainy mixture. Add the pepper, lime juice and olive oil and puree.

2. In a large bowl, combine the apples, cucumbers, and dressing and toss well. Adjust seasoning to taste by adding more lime juice or salt.

Chickpea and Kale Frittata

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I love frittatas because they’re basically an entire meal in one skillet. I grew up with frittatas (or kuku, as they’re called in Farsi): herb frittata (kuku sabzi), potato frittata (kuku zibzamini) — you get the picture. But chickpeas? That’s something new. It works beautifully here, along with a healthy serving of kale.

Chickpea and kale frittata

Ingredients:

12 eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped parsley (basil works well here too)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons curry powder (I used a mix of Madras and Jaffna curry powders here)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bunch kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Whisk eggs, parsley, sour cream, red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl until no streaks remain.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add chickpeas and curry powder and season with salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, garlic, and remaining teaspoon oil to chickpeas in skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and starting to brown, about 7 minutes.

4. Add a handful of greens and tablespoons. water and cook until slightly wilted. Continue adding greens a handful at a time, letting them wilt slightly before adding more, until all greens are wilted, about 5 minutes total; season with salt. Let cool slightly.

5. Return pan to medium-low, pour in egg mixture, and cook, stirring eggs and swirling pan often, until edges are just set (texture should be like a very soft scramble), about 5 minutes. Transfer to oven and bake frittata until puffed slightly and center is just set, about 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes and serve.

Steamed Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

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This dish is elegant, this dish is healthy, and best of all, this dish is extremely simple to make. Just make sure to use soft tofu in this recipe, because it’s all about the silky texture here.

Steamed tofu with black bean sauce

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon black bean sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 16-ounce package soft tofu, drained
1 green onion, thinly sliced

1. To make the sauce, combine the black bean sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar in a small bowl.

2. Cut the tofu widthwise into 8 slices. Carefully transfer the tofu into a heatproof ceramic dish that will fit into your steamer.

3. Prepare a wok for steaming. Steam the tofu, covered, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the top and steam for 4 more minutes. Garnish with the green onion and serve warm.

Cheddar-Green Onion Biscuits

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I’ve generally shied away from making biscuits because, quite frankly, I suck at it. I over-knead the dough, I don’t add enough butter, and my final product is usually hard baked disks of crumbly flour.

Except for these biscuits. Flecked with bits of cheddar cheese and green onions, they’re a cinch to make, even for someone like me. Good luck eating just one.

Cheddar-green onion biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed, plus 1 tablespoon melted
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup buttermilk, divided

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pepper, and salt in a large bowl until combined. Using your fingers, work cold butter into flour mixture until butter is in small, flattened pieces and mixture is crumbly. Stir in green onions and cheese. Add 3/4 cup buttermilk, and stir just until dough comes together, adding up to 1/4 cup additional buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. (Dough should be neither sticky nor crumbly.)

2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead 3 to 4 times just to bring dough together. Pat dough into an 8- x 6-inch rectangle; fold 1 short side a third of the way over toward center. Fold opposite short side over folded end (business letter fold). Rotate dough clockwise 90 degrees; pat out dough into a 8×6-inch rectangle, and repeat folding procedure. Pat dough out into an 8×6-inch rectangle (3/4 to 1 inch thick); cut dough into 8 rectangular biscuits.

3. Place each biscuit rectangle on baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake biscuits in oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Baby Arugula Salad with Date and Citrus Dressing

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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.

Baby arugula salad with date and citrus dressing

Ingredients:

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.