persian fresh herb platter

Serves: 4 to 6

Prep Time: 15 minutes

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herb platter

I was one of those 100 million (more or less) people who tuned into the debates last night and I suspect you were, too. Whether or not you were as nervous as I was I don’t know, but debates do that to me. The clashing, the talking over one another, the incivility of this election in general…it makes my stomach churn. Which is a problem if you live in a time zone where the debates take place during dinner, as I do. What to eat when you want to be in front of the TV but you are fidgeting so much you don’t want to deal with a knife and fork? Or if you live farther east, what to eat beforehand that won’t give you a worse stomachache than the debate will?

Here’s one possibility: this beautiful platter of seasoned feta, walnuts, fresh herbs, and flatbread to tear and roll and nibble and chew. It’s a no-brainer to assemble* and you can feed as many as a debate-watching party will hold. The textures are varied, the flavors bright, but it’s light and easy to digest. Which is more than I can say for the debates. Oh, and it’s Persian in origin, which seemed rather topical last night. Anyway, there are two more debates to go. I will be tuned in, shaking my fistful of feta and herbs. Hope you will be, too.

recipe adapted from Louisa Shafia The New Persian Kitchen

* to see me assemble this, watch my launch video; that’s what I’m making and eating in the kitchen scenes

ingredients

8 ounces feta cheese
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt
3 or 4 bunches whole fresh herbs, in any combination: mint, basil, cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, dill, chives, or watercress
2 cups walnuts (see note)
1 bunch (6 to 8) radishes, trimmed and quartered
6 to 8 lavash, pitas, flour tortillas, or other flatbreads

directions

Drain the feta and place it in a small bowl. Heat the coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds in a small skillet over high heat. Shake the pan continuously until the spices start to release their aroma, about 2 minutes. Pour seeds into a bowl and pour in the olive oil. Add a pinch of coarse salt. Let steep for a few minutes. Pour the mixture over the feta and set aside.

Wash and dry the herbs. Trim ragged ends off the stems, but leave sprigs whole. Place herbs on a large platter with the walnuts, radishes, and feta. Arrange the flatbread on the platter or in a bowl alongside.

To eat, tear off a manageable piece of flatbread and stuff it with some herbs, walnuts, a small piece of cheese, and some radishes. Fold and eat.

note: if you want to remove the bitterness from the walnuts, place them in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water to cover over them. Add a pinch of salt and let sit for an hour or up to overnight. Drain nuts and pat dry before serving.