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Nani’s Vitamin Soup

Nani’s Vitamin Soup

Fall has begun in New York and soup season is here! I love soup. It can be comforting, delicious and nutritious. And like many other popular dishes that exist in multiple cultures, soup has several origin stories. Among the most popular is the suggestion the word “soup” can be traced back to the sixth-century Latin word “suppa,” meaning a piece of bread eaten in broth. We’ll go with that.

There are endless creative ingredient combinations for a delicious soup. Here I share with you a recipe I made for my family last week when we all came down with a pesky cold. I call it Vitamin Soup! It’s rich tapestry of vegetables, herbs and spices is guaranteed to boost the immune system while providing a delicious and satisfying meal.

I strongly believe this is how we should take our vitamins. In my opinion, the health and wellness section of the supermarket is the produce section. The name vitamin soup is a fun play on words and it doesn’t just need to be limited to when we’re sick. A balanced and vegetable-rich diet complimented with healthy fats, savory spices and fresh herbs not only does a body good- but it is the best way to enjoy the fruit of the earth and maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit.

This is also a good way to use leftovers in the fridge. For example, I had a bit of rice and quinoa leftover that I just threw in there.

Customize with your favorite veggies + herbs and enjoy!

 

Herb & Citrus Chicken Skewers with Mint-Basil Sauce

Herb & Citrus Chicken Skewers with Mint-Basil Sauce

Legend has it Kabab was invented by medieval soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires. But mostly likely cooking pieces of meat over a flame has been around since humans began cooking with fire.

There are cultural variations to skewered food around the world: En Brochette as in the French technique, Satay of Malaysian or Indonesian origin , Souvlaki of Greece, Yakitori of Japan (which literally means “burnt chicken”),  Espetada of Portugal and my personal favorite Shish Kabab from Iran and surrounding Middle East countries- just to name a few.

It is a simple and practical way to cook and I want to share one of my favorite recipes with you. You can either grill these over fire or bake in the oven. Either way you end up with a tasty and juicy chicken. Drizzle it with my mint-basil sauce and you have a flavor explosion to boot!

 

Exquisite Hard-boiled Eggs

Exquisite Hard-boiled Eggs

I love eggs. It is one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen and I’ve enjoyed learning different ways of working with it. From a humble omelette to a sumptuous souffle, the options of what you can make with eggs are infinite. For those of us who are not vegan, eggs are an excellent wellspring of nutrition in a single source- eggs provide proteins, antioxidants, fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins and minerals.

Omelettes are great on weekends, like this Scallion and Mushroom Turmeric Omelette we love.                  On weekdays the classic hard boiled egg is my go to for either topping a salad for lunch or an express breakfast on busier days.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “There is always a best way of doing everything, if it be to boil an egg.” I 100% agree with that statement. Here I share with you what I consider the best way to make hard-boiled eggs. It will be one the simplest and most satisfying dishes you make. And since here at Basil and Roses we love flowers so much, we present our eggs shaped like one! It’s just beautiful and we think it will put a smile on your face.


Something salty compliments eggs well. Feta cheese is a great choice.
Here I served the eggs with a typical Persian breakfast of Feta, Tomato, herbs and pita (noon o  paneer o sabzi!)

Tequila-Lime Baked Fish Tacos

Tequila-Lime Baked Fish Tacos

Fish tacos, how we love them so… truly one of my favorite things to eat. I enjoy indulging in crispy fried versions once in a while, but in general prefer a healthier baked or grilled version. With the immense flavor of this tequila-lime recipe nothing will be lost, promise! There is just something so gratifying about a good fish taco. All you need is a nice flaky fish, a zesty salsa with a kick, guacamole, a crunchy slaw and of course a nice amount of citrus and spice and everything nice!

My family loved this recipe and I hope you enjoy it too. With summer just beginning, this is the perfect dish to make for warm afternoons in the backyard served with a refreshing margarita!

¡Buen apetito!

Vibrant and Colorful Mango Salsa

Vibrant and Colorful Mango Salsa

This colorful salsa is fun to make, fun to eat and a feast on the eyes! The gorgeous colors make the table festive and the sweet and sour flavors are explosive! Great on fish tacos or as a dip.

 

 

 

 

 

Nani’s Guacamole

Nani’s Guacamole

I think avocado is the most magnificent fruits in the world! It is rich, creamy, earthy, nutty, and savory. Avocados also have great health benefits. The list is long but to name a few they are high in potassium, good fats and they are one of the few high protein fruits. I love it’s creamy texture and use it as a substitute for butter or oils often. And of course, nowhere is the beautiful avocado highlighted more than in a classic guacamole! I don’t use garlic or tomato’s in my recipe, but feel free to add them if it makes you happy…

P.S. This recipe also works really well for avocado toast. It’s excellent on toasted sourdough bread with a couple of slices of tomato and a pinch of sea salt. Yum!

 

 

 

Pico De Gallo Salsa Fresco

Pico De Gallo Salsa Fresco

Forget store-bought salsa and with a few simple steps make your own tasty Salsa Fresca!
In Spanish, pico de gallo literally means the “beek of the rooster.” An internet search led me to several colorful explanations for the etymology of the term, but mostly urban legends and no definitive answer. According to Wikipedia “in Mexico it is sometimes called salsa mexicana (Mexican sauce). Because the colors of the red tomato, white onion, green chili are reminiscent of the colors of the Mexican flag, it is also sometimes called salsa bandera (flag sauce).” So there you go.

Now, let’s make some yummy flag sauce! This is a party favorite to be enjoyed as a dip with chips, and it ends up being great on tacos, nachos, burritos, grilled chicken… and so on.

Azi’s Red Cabbage Slaw with Honey-Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette

Azi’s Red Cabbage Slaw with Honey-Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette

This was the first time I made this and it ended up being great. I love using red cabbage for it’s beautiful color, slightly bitter and peppery flavor and many health benefit- Vitamin C, A, K and dietary fiber to name a few. It adds a nice crunch to the otherwise soft textured fish taco and marinated in a honey-lime-cumin vinaigrette it became a great addition to our fiesta!

In case you’re wondering, it’s called “Azi’s Slaw” because my beautiful sister Azadeh was a big help in the recipe testing of this dish. She has always been a dream sous chef, putting up with my colorful antics in the kitchen… Thanks, Sis!

 

 

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Medley

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Medley

I love quinoa and use it often in my recipes. I like the health benefits of this gluten-free, high fiber content, magnesium and iron rich seed which also happens to be one of the most protein rich foods we can eat.  The Incas discovered the seed around 4 thousand years ago, which they believed increased the stamina of their warriors. In the last decade, Quinoa has grown in popularity and is considered a “super food!” Quinoa is not a grain. It’s actually a seed that is related to the spinach and beet families. And although I don’t believe it’s a cardinal sin to eat carbs (as seen in my reviews of these restaurants), I do enjoy the rice like feel of quinoa without the heavy feeling of carbohydrate-rich foods.

Quinoa is a great item to have in the pantry- it can be used as a side on its own or, mixed with veggies and proteins. Here is a personal favorite of mine, mixed with a kind of deconstructed ratatouille... enjoy!

 

Persian Stuffed Peppers (Dolmeh)

Persian Stuffed Peppers (Dolmeh)

The term “Dolmeh” can be traced back thousands of years in the form of various stuffed vegetables and was popular all over ranging from the Middle East, to Central Asia, and surrounding areas. The vegetables stuffed could include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, and eggplant.  Stuffed grape and cabbage leaves were also part of this tradition and can be traced back even further in culinary history. One explanation for etymology of the word dolmeh is from the Turkish verbal noun  dolmak,  which means “to be stuffed.” Makes sense.

In the Persian Empire, references of dolmeh are traced back to the 17th century and the courts of the Shah (king). According to Wikipedia, Alī-Akbar Khan Āšpaz-bāšī,  chef to the court of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah, recorded dolmeh as a special category of Persian cuisine and gave recipes for stuffing grape leaves, cabbage leaves, cucumbers, eggplants, apples, and quinces.

My beloved late Grandmother made dolmeh combining green stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage leaves in a large pot. She used tomato sauce and the end result was delicious! This is a picture of the dolmeh she made for us when my mom and I visited her in 2009. Those beautiful hands made many lovely dishes for us on that trip. And they all had the common ingredient of love incorporated. Many of my cooking inspirations are connected to that trip. Since my family immigrated from Iran when I was a child, this was the only time I cooked with her as an adult and I cherished every moment.

It seems the popularity and timelessness of this dish, is due to it’s simplicity. Stuff any vegetable with other vegetables, herbs and/or meat and you have a rich dish that satiates any palette.

I made my version of dolmeh for Nowruz (the Persian New Year) and they were a hit! The only dish with no leftovers and that says a lot for any meal in an Iranian home where abundance is the key ingredient to any feast.

It is a relatively easy recipe and quite healthy. You can make it meat-less by eliminating the ground turkey or chicken for a vegetarian option, nothing will be lost. The fresh herbs add such great flavor and aroma! Serve it up as a main or side dish and enjoy!