I actually learned this recipe from my sister-in-law Sheila, whose husband is Iranian. Like my mother, she has become an excellent “Persian” cook by learning from her mother-in-law. Ashe reshte is wonderful in winter; meatballs and “Kluski” brand noodles make it very hearty.
Servings: About 4
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 small grated onion
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach
1/2 package Kluski noodles, broken
1/2 c. brown lentils
1/3 c. dried black-eyed peas
1/4 c. dried parsley
2 t. dried mint
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. salt
1 medium onion, chopped
Step 1: Soak the beans overnight. Discard the water.
Step 2: Mix the ground beef, grated onion, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Form into small meatballs. Bring 4-5 cups water to a boil with 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the meatballs and the salt.
Step 3: After a few minutes, add the black-eyed peas and lentils. Reduce the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.
Step 4: Add the spinach, parsley and mint. Simmer another 20 minutes.
Step 5: Add the noodles and simmer 10 minutes.
Step 6: During the simmering, fry the chopped onion in some oil with a dash of both cinnamon and turmeric.
To serve, top a bowl of ashe reshte with a large spoonful of yogurt, then top the yogurt with a spoonful of the fried onion.
Note: canned black-eyed peas may be used, but should be rinsed first, and added at the end with the noodles (or they will get mushy if “over-simmered”).
Recipe © Nura Amerson 1991
In the Persian cookbook Food of Life, author Najmieh Batmanglij explains that ashe reshte (aka “osh-e reshteh“) is traditionally eaten at Naw-Rúz, the Persian New Year, which falls on the spring equinox. The soup’s vivid green color fits the springtime celebration perfectly. Also, the noodles are seen as symbols of one’s path in life. How poetic!
Just as with the beet soup, I ended up making some substitutions based on what was available at the store. Pink beans stood in for black-eyed peas, and curly egg pasta for the straight Kluski noodles my mom recommends. To make the soup vegetarian, you could leave out the meatballs—though for the omnivorous, they have the benefit of making a bowl of this soup a complete, filling meal. I served it on a snowy April day (yes, April!), and as my mom points out above, it was a boon for that wintry weather.
Ashe reshte is probably my favorite Persian food, so I was sad that I couldn’t have it anymore when I became vegetarian. But thank goodness for fake meat! I used Gardein meatless meatballs. The instructions say to “place frozen meatless meatballs into lightly simmering sauce in last 15-20 minutes of cooking.” I added them halfway through step 4, so they simmered with the spinach and herbs for 10 minutes and then for 10 more minutes when I added the noodles and black-eyed peas in step 5. I used the whole package, which was 12 meatballs.
As with the beet soup, I again used canned black-eyed peas instead of dried and canned spinach instead of frozen, and they worked well.