This is a Persian recipe (‘Ash-e Reshteh’) that I modified – very similar to the ash I sampled at an Afghan restaurant. ‘Ash-e’ means soup in Farsi but as you can see by the photograph above that mine is a drier version (albeit there is a fair amount of soup at the bottom to spoon over the noodles if you prefer). Persian noodles (Reshteh) are available in Middle Eastern food shops although I have used flat egg noodles from the grocery store (kosher section) with equal success. I sometimes substitute whole milk yogurt for sour cream if it is not on hand. This dish tastes better made a day ahead.
Noodles, lentils & beans
1/4 cup red kidney beans, soaked
1/4 cup navy beans, soaked
1/4 cup chickpeas, soaked
3 onions, finely sliced
3 Tbsp. oil
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
10 cups water
1/2 cup lentils
1 cup beef (or chicken or vegetable) broth
1/2 cup chives or scallions, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dill weed, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
2 cups frozen spinach chopped (more if using fresh)
1/2 lb. Persian ‘reshteh’ noodles (I use flat egg noodles)
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup liquid whey or sour cream
1/4 lb. ground chicken or beef
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp. oil
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. saffron, dissolved in 1 Tbsp. hot water
1/2 tsp. salt
Sour Cream, Herb and Walnut Pesto
1/2 cup roughly chopped coriander, stems & leaves
1/2 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp. sugar
2 green chilis
1/4 c coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup sour cream or whole milk yogurt
2 tbsp. lemon juice
- In large pot, brown onions in oil. Add salt, 1/4 tsp. of the pepper, and turmeric. Pour in water and add kidney beans. navy beans, and chickpeas.
- Cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add lentils and broth. Cook another 35 minutes.
- Add scallions, dill, parsley and spinach. Stir occasionally and cook 15 minutes or until done.
- Correct seasoning (add the remainder of pepper if needed) and add more water if too thick. Add noodles, flour and cook until noodles are done, about 10 minutes.
- If using sour cream, set aside a tablespoon or so for garnish. Stir 2 tbsp. of soup into remaining sour cream. Stir this mixture slowly into soup. Reheat just before serving, adding more water if it’s too thick.
- About a half hour before serving, prepare the meat garnish.
- Brown meat, onion, and garlic in oil. Add water, cover and cook 20 minutes over low heat.
- Add tomato paste, saffron, and salt. Simmer covered for 10 minutes.
- While meat is simmering, prepare green pesto garnish.
Walnut pesto garnish:
- Pack chopped coriander (leaves) firmly into cup to measure
- Peel garlic and chop roughly; slit chili, remove seeds and chop roughly
- Place yogurt and all other ingredients in blender or food processor and process until a grainy texture is achieved, adding yogurt or sour cream while processing
- Add salt to taste, place in a bowl and chill until ready to serve
To serve, ladle noodles onto a deep plate or pasta dish, top with meat and garnish with green pesto, sour cream and crispy fried onions.