February 17, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Pasta


There are oh-so-many recipes for buffalo chicken pasta casseroles out there, and they're all surprisingly different. This is not a casserole, however, but a pasta sauce made from chicken and a buffalo-wing-style sauce, layered with blue cheese dressing and onto cooked long noodles, and topped with crumbled blue cheese. As you eat, the sauce and cheese combine to coat the pasta so that each bite is rich, delicious, and extremely satisfying.

If you are using the crumbled blue cheese, I recommend a mild style, such as Danish Blue. I used a German blue cheese called Kornblume, which is similar in flavour profile. I don't recommend gorgonzola or roquefort for this, as delicious as they are. The gorgonzola has the wrong texture and flavour, and the roquefort is a bit strong in this context. Maytag would work well for people who like their blue cheese a bit more intense.

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Serves 2

150 grams dry linguine
1 tablespoon of butter

250 grams chicken breast, poached gently and shredded
125 mL Frank's Red Hot sauce (original style)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

125 mL blue cheese dressing
4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (optional)

Cook the linguine to your preferred doneness and drain. Toss with a tablespoon of butter, and divide between two pasta bowls. While the linguine cooks, combine the hot sauce, butter, and Worcestershire sauce in a small skillet, and stir to combine. Add the shredded chicken and stir through to ensure that all of the chicken is nicely coated in the hot sauce. Keep it warm over low heat with the lid off, to let the sauce thicken a bit.

Once the linguine is plated, spoon a little of the blue cheese dressing over each bowl, and then divide the chicken between the bowls (use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from any excess sauce). Spoon the rest of the blue cheese dressing over the chicken, and then add the crumbled blue cheese. Add a final drizzle of the hot sauce mixture over the top, and devour immediately.

To keep the buffalo wing theme going, we had this with a salad of finely sliced celery and carrot, topped with another bit of the blue cheese dressing. It made a refreshing contrast to the richness of the pasta, and is highly recommended.

Finally, I should note that if you make a bit more chicken than you need for this recipe, the leftovers make a fairly stunning grilled cheese. Yeah.

February 11, 2017

Kasha Varnishkes: Buckwheat & Bowties


I know it looks as if it might be a ground meat sauce coating those farfalle noodles, but it isn't; those are buckwheat groats. This dish may seem a bit unusual to the uninitiated, but this staple of modern Ashkenazic Jewish cooking is a beloved comfort food favourite for many as either a side dish or a meal in its own right. Meat eating families might have it next to brisket or roast chicken, but it is easily made ovo-lacto vegetarian replacing the chicken schmaltz with butter or vegetable oil, and replacing the chicken stock with mushroom stock or vegetable broth. Even on its own, it is a hearty, filling meal.

According to my *ahem* extensive internet research, this dish is likely a deconstructed take on vareniki, a Ukrainian small, filled dumpling (similar to Russian pelmeni or Polish pierogi). Instead of the time-consuming process of forming the dumplings, the buckwheat filling was just mixed with regular noodles, and a new classic dish was born, with the new name, varnishkes.

Since most recipes start with simply cooking the buckwheat (kasha), I referred back to the successful kasha recipe from a Polish cookbook, then added onions and mushrooms sautéd until darkly golden in chicken fat (collected from a previously roasted chicken) to add layers of flavour to the kasha. Once that was done, I quickly stirred in some cooked pasta, and it was ready to go. This did not take very long to make, but it did use a lot of pots and pans, so a fair bit of washing up was required.

Kasha Varnishkes

Serves 4 - 6

225 grams farfalle (bowtie pasta)

2 medium-to-large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
10 large cremini mushrooms (or equivalent), halved and sliced
2 tablespoons chicken schmaltz
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup toasted buckwheat groats
1 beaten egg
2 cups strong chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt (if your stock is not already salty)
ground black pepper

If your buckwheat groats are not toasted, you can toast them yourself in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until they smell lovely and toasted. Let cool before proceeding with the recipe.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg well. Add the cooled, toasted buckwheat groats, and stir until very well integrated.

Heat the chicken stock until boiling.

In a sauce pan with a tight-fitting lid, over medium-high heat, add the buckwheat/egg mixture. Stir continuously, until the grains start to separate themselves from the mass of eggy/buckwheat goo. Then, add the chicken stock, the salt and pepper, and give it one last stir before turning the heat to low, covering, and letting cook for ten minutes. After ten minutes, remove the pan from the heat (leave it covered) and let stand on a cool burner or other safe place for another ten minutes.

While the kasha is cooking, heat the water to boil the pasta, and get started on the onions and mushrooms.

In a large skillet, melt the chicken schmaltz and fry the mushroom slices, in batches, until deeply golden brown. Scrape them to the side of the pan, and add the chopped onions and garlic. Continue to fry, stirring frequently now, until the onions are also turning brown. Taste, and adjust for salt and pepper.

While the onion, garlic, and mushrooms are frying, boil the farfalle until it is cooked to your preference.

Fluff the kasha with a spatula, and add it to the skillet with the onions and mushrooms, and stir through. Drain the farfalle (or use a spider to retrieve them from the water and scoop them directly into the skillet with the kasha mixture. If you happen to have any chicken gold available to you, stirring in a spoonful or two is a wonderful way to add a depth of flavour and sense of luxury to the finished dish. Stir well to coat the noodles with the kasha "sauce" and serve.



We had ours with baked sweet potato coins, and sliced pickled beets.

February 04, 2017

Rice Noodle Rolls: Chee Cheong Fun (and two pan-fried variations)


If you have access to a good Asian grocery store, you might never need to make the noodles from scratch although it's not at all difficult - merely time consuming. Just buy a nice fresh package and proceed below to the serving suggestions. But if, for example, you live in a small European city that doesn't seem to have really figured out yet that Asian cuisines are in fact plural, I hope that you will find this useful.

The time consuming aspect of this recipe lies in the fact that the noodles can only be cooked one at a time, and this makes 13-14 noodle sheets (at least, using the size of pans I have), each of which take 6 - 7 minutes to steam. If you have a better steaming rig than I do, one with stackable layers, you might be able to reduce the time by quite a bit.

Fortunately, you can make these a day or two ahead of when you want to serve them, and just keep them in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.

Chee Cheong Fun (Chinese Rice Noodle Rolls)

175 grams pyramid dumpling rice flour blend (or 150 grams rice flour plus 25 grams tapioca flour)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
200 mL cold water
300 mL hot water (from a recently boiled kettle)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon canola oil

Combine the flour(s) and cornstarch with the salt, and whisk in the cold water. When there are no more lumps, add the hot water, and whisk well, until thoroughly integrated. The batter will look way too thin and watery, but it’s fine. Add the oil and whisk again.

Let the batter rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Set up your steamer, and two or three trays that you can use to shape the noodle sheets. I use foil trays, the same kind used for baking or take-out containers. Make sure the trays can lie flat in the steamer, so your noodles are even. Lightly oil the trays, using a pastry brush or similar. Prepare a cold water bath - something large enough to put your steaming trays in, such as a baking dish or larger aluminum pan. Prepare a plate for the finished rolls, by brushing it very, very lightly with oil.

Place the first tray in the steamer (with steam already rising) and (after stirring the batter well) add a very thin layer of batter to the tray. Make sure the bottom of the tray is just barely covered. Cover, and steam for 6 - 7 minutes, or until it looks set. Remove tray from steamer and place it in the cold water bath. Place the next tray in the steamer, and repeat, being sure to stir the batter vigorously before ladling into the tray (it will separate, otherwise).

Let the tray with the cooked noodle rest in the water bath for a minute or two, and then lift it out and use a spatula to free the sides and slowly, with the pan tilted toward you, use the spatula to peel the noodle sheet down from the top, bit by bit, causing it to roll into a tight cylinder. Remove the noodle roll to your resting plate. Brush lightly with oil, especially if you will not be using the rolls until later.

Repeat until all of the batter is used up. How many noodle rolls you get depends very much on how big your trays are, and how thick your noodles. Once they are at room temperature, you can refrigerate them to use later, or even the next day.

As you can imagine, at about seven minutes per noodle, it takes a while to cook all of the batter. Using trays that measure approximately 16x10 centimetres, I got 13 or 14 rolls, and it took over an hour and a half to complete the steaming, because I could only steam one tray at a time. If you have a multi-tiered steaming rig and can handle more trays at a time, that will speed up the process a lot.

Pan fried rice noodle rolls with XO sauce

In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil until very hot. While the oil is heating, slice the rice rolls into smaller pieces - from the 10 centimetre rolls I made, I cut the rolls into thirds, but you could also do halves or quarters. I cut them on an angle, to make them look pretty.

The amount of sauce here is for 7 noodle rolls (half a batch), so double it if you're going to fry up the whole amount.

Lay the noodle rolls pieces in the hot skillet, and let them sear lightly. Use a spatula or tongs to flip them over to get both sides. If you are frying all the noodles, maybe go through the searing stage in two batches, so to not overcrowd the pan and remove the finished ones to a holding plate while you fry the second batch.

It only takes a couple of minutes to sear the noodle rolls on each side. Use that time to slice some red chiles and green onion, and to make the finishing sauce:

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons less-sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, pressed

When the noodle pieces have seared on both sides, add of the seared noodles back into the pan just before you add the sauce. Add the finishing sauce and the red chile slices, and gently stir and fry until the noodles have a glossy brown coat. Plate the noodles, and top with green onions and a nice spoonful of XO sauce. Serve immediately.

Pan fried rice noodle rolls with prawns and snow peas

To make a meal of it, simply add some prawns and snow peas. You can sear them either before or after searing the noodle rolls, making use of a holding plate, and then just add it all together into the skillet (or wok!) before you add the sauce.

Proceed as above. Serves 2.

January 28, 2017

Pumpkin Muffins


These were actually made with Hokkaido squash (aka Red Kuri, amongst other names), rather than what we might usually think of as a pumpkin in Canada, but the net effect is the same. You could also use butternut squash. I made this recipe because I had a cup of mashed, roasted squash to use up, but you could also use canned pumpkin. The raisins are optional, but if you like raisins at all, they are a delightful little burst of extra sweetness in a muffin that isn't trying to be a cupcake. Cranberries might be nice, too.

Great for the lunchbox, if that's a thing you do.

Pumpkin Muffins

Adapted from Muffins & More, by Jean Paré (Company's Coming)

Makes 10 - 12 muffins

1.5 cups (375 mL) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup (125 mL) raisins (optional)

1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup (90 mL) canola oil
1/3 cup (90 mL) sugar
1 cup (250 mL) pumpkin or squash puree
1/4 cup (60 mL) milk

Pumpkin seeds for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) with a rack in the middle. Lightly oil or grease the wells of a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with paper or silicone muffin liners.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices, and raisins in a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, beat the egg, and the sugar and the oil and beat again. Add the pumpkin, beat until smooth and, finally, add the milk and stir until combined.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and pour the alarmingly coloured wet ingredients into the well all at once. Use a spatula or broad spoon to fold the mixture gently together, until there are no more dry patches. Be careful not to mix too vigorously, or you will get tough muffins. Be gentle.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, coming just barely to the top of each cup. Don't smooth the tops or press the batter down, just let it be lumpy. I got 10 muffins out of this, but the original recipe claims to get 14, so your mileage may vary.

Top each muffin with a few pumpkin seeds, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick (or strand of raw spaghetti) comes out clean.

Let stand for 5 minutes in the tin, and then remove to a rack to cool. These keep well at cool room temperature for a couple of days. After that, put them in the fridge or freezer (well wrapped, of course).

January 21, 2017

Matar Paneer


This is my version of the famous northern Indian vegetarian curry featuring peas (matar or mutter, amongst other spellings) and fresh cheese (paneer). It is a little less rich, and a little less complex than a lot of the versions out there, but that just makes it easier to put on the dinner table on a weeknight.

Obviously it is much more time consuming if you make the paneer yourself, but since I was able to find some in a shop here (hurrah!) I've gone the easy route. You can make the paneer cubes any size you want, although if they're much smaller than sugar-cube, it will be more troublesome to fry them. The cubes shown here are actually a bit on the large side, and probably could have been halved. The recipe works either way. You can also skip the frying stage, but it does lose some of the flavour and texture that make the dish special.

I think it's one of the better things you can do with frozen green peas.

Matar Paneer

Serves 4

350 grams paneer, diced
3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1 inch fresh ginger root, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons garam masala, divided
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-2 hot green chiles, minced
250 - 325 mL water
200 grams green peas, rinsed under warm water if frozen
3 tablespoons heavy cream

As usual with Indian cuisine, I find it essential to complete all of the prep before starting cooking. Mise en place is peace of mind.

In a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil until shimmering. Add the cubes of paneer, quickly placing them one at a time rather than dumping them all in at once, and sear until slightly browned. Use tongs or a fork to turn the cubes over to brown the other sides. I confess to being lazy, and that I only browned three or four sides for each piece, so that works, too. Remove the finished cubes to a holding plate.

In the emptied skillet, still over medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, and also add the whole cumin and coriander seeds. Stir them around a bit, and let them toast in the hot oil for a minute or so before adding the onion, ginger, garlic, and salt. Stir and fry until the onion bits are well browned, and then add the turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander seed, and half of the garam masala. Stir the spices through, and then add the tomato paste, and stir that through, also. You can add a tablespoon or so of water if it's really getting difficult to stir. Add the diced tomatoes, and stir and cook for about ten minutes or so, or until the oil starts to separate out from the mass of vegetables. Slowly stir in 250 mL water, and stir and cook until it is a grainy gravy.

If your pan is deep enough, you can use an immersion blender right in the skillet, but if not, remove the coarse sauce to a blender-cup or food processor and process until it becomes a smooth gravy. Return to the skillet (I don't bother to wipe the skillet out in between), and let it return to a gentle bubble. If the mixture is too thick, you can add the extra water but go slow, just adding a bit at a time until you get a gravy consistency you're happy with.

Add the peas to the skillet and stir through. Add the fried paneer cubes, and gently stir through. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low, and let simmer for about ten minutes, or until the peas are cooked and the paneer cubes are heated through. Remove from the heat and stir through the heavy cream. Garnish with cilantro if you wish. Serve with or over basmati rice.

A note on recipes calling for only a tablespoon or two of tomato paste: if you normally buy tomato paste in cans, you might want to consider picking up a tube of tomato paste instead - unlike the cans, they can be stored in the fridge once opened and are perfect for dispensing only a small amount of tomato paste at a time. You can usually find tomato paste in large tubes in Italian delis or specialty shops, if they're not on your usual supermarket shelves.

January 14, 2017

Japanese Ginger Salad Dressing


Ginger salad dressing is so fresh and delicious tasting that it can make even the saddest pile of limp iceberg lettuce palatable. It turns out that it's even better when homemade and you can control the sweetness, so you may need to forcibly restrain yourself from just drinking it down like a smoothie.

I find a lot of the ginger salad dressings I've a had in restaurants to be a bit too sweet for my taste, so I've put very little sugar in this one. If you like your dressings sweet, you might want to taste it after it's made up and then add a bit more sugar and give it a final blitz. This recipe was synthesized from myriad online sources, but none in particular. There are some surprising ingredients, but go with it.

Japanese Ginger Salad Dressing

Makes 2/3 cup

1/4 cup peanut oil*
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 - 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger root (or finely minced)
1/4 cup sliced green onion - white parts only (about 3-4)
2 tablespoons finely grated carrot
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon less-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch of ground white pepper

*If you don't use peanut oil, for whatever reason, be sure to use a neutrally flavoured vegetable oil. Strong-tasting oils like olive or walnut are out of place here.

I used a microplane-type grater for the carrot and the ginger, and everything else was just finely chopped by hand. I like a strong ginger flavour, so I used the full 2 tablespoons, but you can scale it back to one if you're feeling mild.

Place everything in the order given in a cup suitable for an immersion-blender (or the cup of your blender or food processor), and blend on high until mostly smooth. This dressing has a lot of body for a vinaigrette, so it will still have a little bit of texture, but that's fine - it's how the dressing is usually served in restaurants, too.

Cover well and refrigerate for a couple of hours before use if possible - but use it up within three days.

To use, simply give it a stir (or a shake, if it's in a jar) and spoon over your composed salad. It can also be used to dress thinly sliced cucumber on its own, or plain, finely shredded cabbage to make a sort of gingery coleslaw.

January 07, 2017

Turkey Congee


Congee (also called jook in Cantonese, amongst many other names worldwide) is a rice porridge popular throughout Asia, and there are many different ways to have it. At its most basic, it is a blank canvas for your favourite flavours, whether you need it to be soothing and restorative, or something a little more lively. It is almost infinitely customizable to what you already might have available in your kitchen. It can be meat-based, or vegetarian, or vegan. Congee isn't always made from rice (millet, mung beans, barley, and sorghum are some of the other variations), but rice is by far and away the most common version. It is a popular any time of day - from breakfast to late night, post-pub snack. Every time I make congee, I remember how much I love it, and vow on the spot to make it more often.

This version came from my desire to make something with the strong turkey stock that I made from the bones of our Christmas turkey. Since I'm generally pretty well stocked for Asian condiments and garnish-ingredients, I was able to make this with what was on hand.

It does take a while to cook, but it's fairly low effort, even so: stir it every so often, and it takes care of itself.

Turkey Congee

Serves 2

100 grams (about 1/2 cup) long or short grain rice
1 litre (4 cups) water
250 mL (1 cup) strong turkey stock
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup diced or shredded cooked turkey meat

Garnishes

1 clove of fresh garlic, finely slivered
1 inch fresh ginger, finely slivered
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
cilantro leaves
slices of red chile pepper
a few drops of sesame oil

You can garnish lightly or heavily, depending on what you have on hand:

Other typical congee garnishes might include:

Youtiao (Chinese doughnut/cruller)
hot chile oil
soy sauce (not too much, or it will overwhelm)
peanuts
pork floss
fried shallots/shallot oil
preserved duck egg
lettuce (stirred in at the end)
sliced mushrooms
preserved greens
...and many more (and that's not even counting featured ingredients, such as the turkey in this version.

Wash your rice well in cool water. Meanwhile, bring the litre of water listed in the recipe to a boil in a medium-large soup pot, and once it is boiling, add the stock and the rice. Reduce the heat to medium-low until the mixture is bubbling enthusiastically, but not at a rolling boil, cock a lid half-on the pot (to let steam escape, and set the timer for 20 minutes. Feel free to stir occasionally.

When the timer goes, give everything a good stir, making sure there's nothing stuck to the bottom of the pan. I like a wooden spoon for this. Taste the broth, and add the salt. Start with 1/2 teaspoon (especially if you are using a salty, commercial turkey stock, or will be adding soy sauce later), and add more later if needed. Stir well and leave it to cook, uncovered, this time, stirring occasionally, for another 20 minutes on the timer.

When the second timer goes, check on it again. It should be much thicker (and more likely to start sticking to the bottom of the pot), but still not completely at congee-texture. These things take time. Stir it really well, and put the timer on for another 20 minutes, uncovered. At this time, you can chop or shred the turkey meat and have it standing by, and you can start to prepare the other garnishes.

When the timer goes for the third time, add the turkey meat to the congee, and marvel at how much thicker it has gotten. If it is too thick, feel free to add a half-cup of water (or more, but add only a little at a time) until it reach the consistency you like. Let the mixture cook, stirring frequently for 15 - 20 minutes, and then ladle into bowls. Top with the garnishes of your choice, and devour.

The below picture shows the finished congee, just before the garnishes are added. You can see a little of the turkey peeking through, but you can also see how thick the porridge itself is.

December 31, 2016

Holiday Yams (Sweet Potatoes)


For some reason, in Canada (and in parts of the USA) we called orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (Convolvulaceae) "yams" even though they have no relationship to the true yam (Dioscoreaceae). Technically, this dish should be Holiday Sweet Potatoes, but so far the change hasn't really stuck. I am apparently a prisoner of my childhood lexicon.

I dreamed this recipe up years ago, and we've had it for Christmas dinner every single year since, whether we're having turkey, ham, duck, goose, or anything else. You can cook them in the oven with the other dishes, if you have room, but you could also cook them on the stove-top if that works better for you.

Holiday Yams

Serves 4

2 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
1 cup orange juice (or a mixtured of citrus juices)
4 slices fresh ginger root, peeled
1-2 star anise stars
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
4 green cardamon pods
small pinch of salt (optional)

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. You can cut them into larger, stew-sized chunks, or smaller dice, however you prefer. You should have about 4 cups' worth of cubes.

Pour the orange juice over the cubes, and tuck the spices around them, being sure to submerge the spices into the juice, so that the flavour is carried throughout.

Cover the pan and bake until tender - the timing will depend on the oven temperature, so if you've got other items in the oven that require a specific temp, you'll need to work around that. For small dice, such as the one you see here, 40-45 minutes at 325°F/170°C should suffice, but if your oven is hotter, it could take as little as 30 minutes (you'll need to check).

Drain the orange juice or use a slotted spoon to remove the cubes of sweet potato from the juice and remove the spices (I leave the ginger in) to serve. If you have leftovers, they can be stored as-is in a refrigerator container, and gently reheated on the stovetop either in fresh orange juice, a little water (steaming), or fried in a little oil or butter.

December 27, 2016

Breakfast: Eggs baked in Bell Peppers


This was taken pretty much directly from a Buzzfeed Tasty video. I've adjusted things to our tastes and the current state of the pantry, but the method is solid.

Essentially, this is what you do:

Halve the bell peppers lengthwise, and remove the stem, veins, and seeds. Transfer pepper cups (cut side up) to a baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Season each pepper with salt and pepper, and bake for 15 minutes at 375°F/190°C, until peppers are softened.

Stabilize any peppers that look extra floppy (see below).

Sprinkle some grated cheese and chopped green onion or chives evenly among the four pepper halves. Crack an egg into the centre of each pepper. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, bacon (if you're using it), and more cheese on top of the eggs. Back into the oven it goes; bake for 15-20 minutes, until egg whites are set.



I note that next time I will create rings of aluminum foil to stabilize the peppers and ensure that they don't tip over as the eggs are added. This happened with one of my peppers, but it wasn't the end of the world. After baking just long enough to set the bit of white that lay on the pan, I was able to scoop the egg up and pile it back into the pepper shell with minimal hassle and no real deleterious effect (other than cosmetic, and a bit more grated cheese fixed that right up).



Definitely something I will make again.

December 17, 2016

Khoresht Loobia Sabz: Persian Green Bean and Lamb Stew


Persian cuisine is full of delicious, slow-simmered dishes that are very satisfying on cold winter nights - even more so if you've had the foresight to put a stash in the freezer. This tomato and green bean stew can be made with lamb, beef, chicken, or meatless, and is generally served with rice.

I made this recipe first due to a sudden abundance of fresh green beans that needed using. Normally, I prefer very fine green beans, which are sometimes also called French or filet beans (Prinzessbohnen, or Nadelbohnen in German), which are stringless and supremely tender, but on this occasion I found myself with a rather large bag of somewhat larger diameter green beans, and wanted to find a recipe that would do them justice. Although these beans are stringless they are also quite firm, but this dish simmers until the beans are truly tender, absorbing the flavours around them as they soften. The resulting texture is luscious rather than overcooked, and helps the dish stand up to freezing very well.

I scoured my resources for recipes to get a sense of the variations of this dish (also spelled Khoresht Lubia Sabz), and eventually made a version very closely modelled on Khoresht Lubia Sabz by My Persian Kitchen, although I note that I used much less water than the original recipe.

Khoresht Loobia Sabz: Persian Green Bean and Lamb Stew

Serves 4

500 grams lamb stew meat, diced medium-small
1.5 tablespoon canola oil (divided)
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
400 mL diced tomatoes (canned is fine)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups water
400 grams green beans
3 tablespoons lemon juice


In a medium-large soup pot over medium heat, heat one tablespoon of the canola oil and add the onion and garlic. Stir and sauté until the onion is translucent and just starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, and then add the lamb. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon (if using), and continue to sauté until the lamb colours slightly. Add the water, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cover, and then simmer for an hour and a half, until the lamb is tender.

Add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, and stir thoroughly through. Let the stew continue to simmer while you prepare the beans.

Wash and dry the beans, and trim the ends. Cut the beans into short lengths (each bean cut either into halves or thirds, depending on length). In a separate skillet, heat the remaining half tablespoon of oil until it shimmers, and then add the cut green beans into the hot skillet. Stir fry the beans until they are bright green (add an extra pinch of salt as you fry them), about 3 minutes. Pour the beans into the stew, and add the lemon juice. Stir through, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about an hour, until all of the flavours permeate the beans.

Serve over plain rice, such as chelow or kateh, or even a polow if the mood takes you.