Strawberry-Mint Agua Fresca

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My favorite thing about this strawberry agua fresca (outside of it being immensely refreshing) is the Persianity factor. The Iranian vibes are strong with this one, my friend: a generous addition of not just mint but heady rosewater takes this agua fresca to the next level.

You’ll be sipping this all spring (and summer). Happy strawberry season.

Strawberry-mint agua fresca

1 pound strawberries, trimmed
1/3 cup mint leaves, plus sprigs for serving
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon rosewater
Club soda
Lime wheels, for serving (optional)

1. Puree strawberries, mint leaves, lime juice, agave nectar, rose water, and 2 cups water in a blender until smooth. Transfer puree to a container, cover, and chill until cold, about 1 hour.

2. Skim off any foam from surface and pour puree into four serving glasses filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with mint sprigs and lime wheels.

Roasted Potatoes with Paprika

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Even though it’s spring, it’s still cold enough outside that I’m wearing sweaters and craving all manner of roasted goods. These roasted potatoes have become my go-to: sprinkled with savory herbs, it’s the crispy duck fat coating that makes these potatoes special. It’s worth seeking out a jar of duck fat for your cooking: a little bit goes a long way in adding a layer of richness and umami.

Roasted potatoes with paprika

Ingredients:

4 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes

2 teaspoons salt, divided

2 tablespoons duck fat, melted
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder


1. Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Place potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover by 1 inch. Season with 
1 tablespoon salt and bring 
to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and let stand until cool enough to handle.


2. Arrange potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Place a heavy plate on potatoes and press down gently to slightly crush potatoes without breaking them apart. Drizzle potatoes with half of the melted duck fat; turn potatoes to coat.

3. Roast potatoes in preheated oven until bottoms are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and 
drizzle with remaining melted duck fat; turn potatoes to coat. Return to oven, and roast until crispy and golden brown, 25 minutes.


4. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl. Sprinkle with vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; toss to combine. Place potatoes on a platter and serve.

Som Tam with Green Beans

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Salty, sour, and a little bit sweet, this Thai-inspired salad is a pinch to make and goes perfectly with all manner of grilled meats (or even on its own, really). I tried many variations of long bean salads in Chiang Mai a couple of years ago and the peanut and lime-flecked ones similar to this one remain my favorite.

Som tam with green beans

Ingredients:

1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 anchovy, minced
1 bird chile, minced
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 pound green beans or long beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths

1. Place the garlic, salt, peanuts, anchovy, chile, and sugar in a food processor and process to a paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. Add the chopped tomatoes and green beans, mix, and serve.

Creamy Chickpeas with Eggs and Proscuitto

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It’s the middle of winter and you want something decadent for a weekend breakfast, but it’s too cold and rainy and let’s face it — depressing, to go out. Spring is but a few weeks away but until then, you need something to cheer you up. Adapted from Bon Appetit, I made this easy one-skillet brunch one morning when it was blissfully sunny enough to sit outside and take in the vitamin D. If you stare hard enough, the egg sort of looks like the sun. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I served this with Iranian barbari bread to soak up the creamy tomato sauce, but any flatbread will work just fine.

Creamy chickpeas with eggs and proscuitto

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 sprig rosemary
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt
Pepper
2 eggs
4 thin slices of prosciutto
Flatbread, for serving

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium. Cook garlic and rosemary, stirring frequently, until garlic is golden brown and rosemary crisps up slightly but isn’t browned, about 30 seconds for rosemary and 2 minutes for garlic. Transfer rosemary to a plate.

2. Add chickpeas, tomato paste, and paprika to skillet and cook, stirring often, until coated, about 2 minutes. Mix in cream, season with salt and lots of pepper, and bring to a simmer.

3. Crack eggs into chickpea mixture and season them with salt. Cover and cook until white parts of eggs are set but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drape prosciutto around eggs. Crumble rosemary on top. Serve warm with flatbread.

Turkey Meatball and Noodle Soup

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I love Asian-style meatballs. You know, the fish balls or meat balls you often find in noodle soups. They’re delicious. But if you’ve ever seen them at the market, the pre-packaged kind are also full of preservatives. In this soup, I made the meatballs from scratch, using grass-fed turkey and the results were better than the store-bought version. A chicken stock base and a drizzle of chili oil lends flavor to a hearty soup that’s perfect in January.

Turkey meatball and noodle soup

Ingredients:

4 shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh Chinese wheat noodles
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped kimchi
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon chili oil

1. In a bowl, soak the mushrooms in warm water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, thinly slice the mushrooms, and set aside.

2. Bring medium-sized pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain, rinse, and drain again.

3. To prepare the meatballs, put the meat, cornstarch, sesame oil, and salt in a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Scoop the meatball mixture out into a bowl. With wet hands, roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls. Arrange the meatballs on a plate.

4. To make the soup, in a medium pot, combine the broth and the vinegar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the meatballs and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and kimchi and simmer for 2 minutes longer. Add the cooked noodles and cook, stirring, until the noodles are heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with some green onions, cilantro, and chili oil.