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.

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.

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.

Green Beans in Sesame-Miso Sauce

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Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is over, and you have a ton of green beans leftover. You know, that 500-pound bag you bought at Costco thinking, I’ll use these before they start to wilt! Except it’s December 31 and you have approximately 499 pounds left. What to do?

Make these simple-yet-delicious green beans in sesame miso sauce. Make as little or as much as you want. They’re crunchy, salty, savory, and super addictive. And healthy! Which is an attractive proposition considering how much cheese and pecan pie and who-knows-what you’ve (read: I’ve) been eating this week.

Green beans in sesame-miso sauce

Ingredients:

1 pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons light, sweet miso
2 tablespoons dashi stock
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, add the beans, and blanch for 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Drain the beans and set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a bowl, mix the tahini with the miso. Stir to blend completely and thin the mixture with some of the dashi stock.

3. Cut the green beans into 1-inch lengths and toss with the sesame-miso sauce in a bowl. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.

Turkey Larb

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You know about my trifecta for a perfect recipe, right? If its (a) delicious, (b) healthy, and (c), easy to make, then it enters the gilded hall of Recipes To Be Cherished Forever Because The Nom Factor Is V High. This turkey larb makes the cut, especially since I’m trying to eat less grains these days. Hot, sour, salty, and a tiny bit sweet, you can larb anything, but this is poultry version is classic and never gets old.

turkey larb

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried chiles, roasted and ground to the texture of red chili flakes
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion or shallots
1 thinly sliced green onion
15-20 mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons rice, toasted and finely ground in a spice grinder
Butter lettuce, sliced cucumber, and sticky rice, to serve

1. Put the turkey in a medium saucepan and cover with water, stirring over medium heat until the turkey is opaque but still soft. Use a spatula to break up the meat into small pieces. Drain off the water, then stir in the fish sauce and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Once the turkey has cooled, add the seasonings and mix thoroughly: the chile powder, red onion, green onions, mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Once you’re ready to serve, add the rice powder at the last moment, then mix again. Serve with butter lettuce, sliced cucumber, and sticky rice on the side.