Panir Sabzi

March 7, 2008

The other day Barnaby and I decided to check out the new Persian restaurant down the road. Unfortunately, it had been years since I last had Persian food. But that is going to change! Why had I waited so long? It's so Puurrrrsia-licious! Wonderfully fragrant cinnamon, saffron, sumac and mint are just a few of the delicate flavors that lend balance to a dish.

For an appetizer we were brought a basket filled with walnuts, herbs, feta and a thin pita-like bread. I could have made a meal from this herby delight alone. We were told it was called panir sabzi.

Panir sabzi consists of fresh mint, lemony Persian basil, Persian tarragon, garlic chives, walnuts, feta cheese and flat bread. The walnuts are soaked overnight in salt water making them soft, moist and salty.

We recreated this dish at home and while I could not find the exact Persian herbs and bread my substitutions were just as good.

Panir Sabzi

Fresh mint
Fresh basil
Garlic chives
Feta (in brine is best as it's the most moist)
Pita, cut into quarters
Soaked walnuts (we were told to soak overnight in very salty water, like Dead Sea salty!)

Put a little bit of each on a piece of pita and enjoy! I think a sprinkle of sumac on top would add a lovely bit of color and lemony flavor, too.

Check out Chow for more Persian delights such as Pomegranates, Dried Lemons, Rose Water.



Dreama's picture

I love this idea for a summer appetizer when friends come over after a golf game!!!

Barnaby Dorfman's picture

Wow...that looks beautiful! Such a nice variety of ingredients.

Carla Saunders's picture

You keep putting out so many good recipes! I can't keep up with you. I want to try them all!

Tracy's picture

Great entry about a truly an underappreciated cuisine. I can't wait to hear more about your sabzis and later your kukus.

The only thing I would add here is that I would soak your feta - changing the water a few times - to remove the salt. Unlike the Greeks, I learned from a Persian friend that feta is not salty but creamy. Soaking/rinsing your feta, Greek is the best, will turn the cheese into a brand-new substance, rich and creamy. Beware, you may not be able to eat the salty version again...

I also suggest adding parsley and cilantro to your sabzi ("vegetable") array, and maybe a green onion. Next time you go to that restaurant, try Gormeh Sabzi - a stew of sabzi (vegetables/herbs)made with fresh fennegreek, parsley, leek, cilantro, and dried lemons (which are like the black lemons you described in an earlier entry)....delish!

Food and Wine Maven's picture

I'm considering making this with paneer instead of feta for an upcoming superbowl party. It's amazing what a difference the soaking makes to the walnuts...they're so much better that way. I didn't know the soaking was with salt...good to know. Btw, I don't eat sabzi without sprinkling some sumac on it. Don't leave it out. :)

Sheri Wetherell's picture

Oooo, YUM! Sumac! I never thought of that. I love its lemony flavor. Thanks for the tip!