One of my goals for this MoFo Season is to use up some of the odd-ball things from our pantry. I love going to Middle-Eastern grocers, or Indian grocers and buying fun ingredients... but then half the time I don't actually end up using them right away. Plus, I've got various exciting purchases from my world travels languishing with neglect. So, when we made spontaneous plans to have my parents over for dinner, I decided to try out this container of dried herbs for Ghormeh Sabzi. Specifically, dried fenugreek, dried leek, and dried parsley. There was a recipe on the side of the package - so I started there.
Ghormeh sabzi tastes good, but is not very photogenic
The recipe called for 1 pound of "stew meat" - but graciously offered a vegetarian version as well "1/2 can mushrooms." Hm. In the end, I got about a 1/2 lb of fresh mushrooms, and a few small eggplants - and used those. The herbs from the package were rehydrated, added to the pot, with some kidney beans, some dried Persian limes, and a few other spices and ingredients. It was definitely not as glorious as Ghormeh Sabzi made with all fresh herbs (but what did I expect, really?). It was sorta card-boardy (yum?) and lifeless at first - but with a good jolt of lemon juice, and more time to stew together with the other flavors, it was definitely good enough to eat and enjoy. I probably won't buy this product again, but I'm glad I tried it. One reason I bought it is that I can't ever find fresh fenugreek around here... and I was curious how the dried fenugreek would hold up. Not really so great, it turns out.
Luckily, the second dish I made was an Undisputed Winner. FATTOUSH. Have you ever had fattoush? If not, you MUST. It is so absolutely perfect, I am left wondering "How is this possible?" None of us could get enough of it - and yet somehow I made such an enormous salad, that there was still enough left over for lunch the next day. I love the simplicity, the freshness, the brightness from the lemon and the sumac, the crisp lettuce and peppers... Plus, I even found Purslane at the farmers market - for increased authenticity, brightness and flavor. Basically, I am in love with Fattoush, and I want to marry it. I basically use the recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.
I also made a batch of Sumac Tofu to go with dinner. I love dicing up the tofus and mixing them in with the fattoush (less authentic, to be sure!). This sumac tofu isn't the most wondrous tofu you've ever made in your whole life - but it IS yummy, and it's super quick and super easy. No 3 hours of marinating followed by 40 minutes of baking. So it's a great recipe to have around for that reason. All in all, this was a totally delicious dinner - full of flavors and nutrition and colors and textures. Warm, fresh, stewed, grilled, and chopped - so many foodie experiences all in one lovely meal. Plus... sharing it with my parents made the whole thing all the more wonderful!