Buttermilk adds tang to this creamy, herb-laced dressing. Vary the herbs as you like —fresh parsley, dill, chervil, basil or cilantro.
This recipe is adapted from M.R. Ghanoonparvar’s Persian Cuisine. I’ve reduced the salt and fat content, without sacrificing taste. This fragrant dish is a classic and with good reason — it’s light, full of flavor and loaded with fresh green herbs. I added some arugula to the mix — feel free to replace or substitute as you like. Continue reading
Herbs occupy an important place on the Persian table where they are offered with most every meal — radish, tarragon, basil, cilantro, mint, and parsley — whatever’s fresh and in season. Salty feta cheese is cut into cubes and thin lavash bread completes the combination. I also like to spread a yogurt and shallot mixture called mast-o-musir, even if it’s not traditional.
- Assorted fresh herbs, rinsed and cut into sprigs (cilantro, mint, basil, parsley, tarragon, dill)
- Radishes, rinsed, tops removed and sliced
- Green onions, roots and stalks trimmed (optional)
- Feta cheese, drained and cut into cubes
- Lavash, cut into rectangles about 2 by 4 inches
- Arrange herbs, onions and radishes in the middle of a large platter.
- Add bread and cheese on either side.
- Eat by choosing which elements you want to put together. Lavash, a cube of feta, some herbs and a radish on top, for instance.
Note: For mast-o-musir mix strained, plain yogurt (or plain Greek yogurt) with finely minced shallot (to taste). Wonderful spread on any kind of bread.
Many cultures serve a “green” rice pilaf – this is a Persian version. You can try substituting spinach for the parsley without altering the flavor substantially. Also try increasing the amount of herbs a bit – if you like your rice really “green”. The saffron is not essential – if you don’t have it on hand – though it adds a lovely flavor so characteristic of Persian cuisine. The dried lime can be found at any Persian or Middle Eastern grocery (try Rose International Market in Saratoga or Mountain View). You can substitute fresh lemon for the dried lime – cook the rice with 2 tsp lemon zest, and squeeze 2 Tbsp lemon juice on the rice just before serving. I use less water than is called for in the original dish to create a drier, less sticky grain.
This is a wonderfully loose recipe that can be adapted for the ingredients on hand. Add canned drained beans like kidney or cannellini for a twist or use scallions in place of the onion. If you’re looking to turn this into an easy main dish, add some drained canned tuna and quartered hard-boiled egg on top. You can vary the herbs—add some parsley or chives if you like. I love the dill, and it’s what really makes it special.