I have been meaning to post slow cooker Persian recipes for a while. It is only fit that I begin this series with the one recipe that I make year after year. In fact, every single year for our Norouz Party I load up my two slow cookers with the ingredients for Asheh Reshteh and let the slow cooker do its magic while I prep Sabzi Polow, Kuku Sabzi, and the fish for our guests.
There are few good things about making this hearty soup in a slow cooker. First, I have more room on my stove to cook the other items, most importantly I have plenty of room for my huge pot of rice. Second, I don’t have to constantly stir the soup. Finally, I can simply serve the soup in the crockpot instead of using a serving dish.
This is a great recipe to simply load up before going to work and coming home to a delicious smelling home! Before I go any further thought, let me share some of my personal beliefs when it comes to cooking with a slow cooker. In the past seven years that I have owned slow cookers I have experimented a lot and learned valuable cooking lessons. I will share my tips and findings as they apply as I post each recipes. With that said, one thing remains a common factor when it comes to using a slow cooker: in order for the food to really taste good, you must do some prep work before placing the ingredients in the pot. Through trial and error I have found that it’s very difficult to get a meal that tastes good by simply throwing the raw ingredients in a slow cooker and let it cook for hours.
As far as Asheh Reshteh is concerned, it is pretty important to sauté the onion and garlic. Also, it’s best to add the noodles in the last hour or so of the cooking period, because otherwise they will simply be overcooked and fall apart.
The other thing that I would like to mention is that slow cookers do not all operate at the same rate. Our oval slow cooker arrives to a simmer much faster than our round one. So when I load them up in the morning of our party, I also have to make sure that I keep that in mind so that the flavor of both pots is consistent.
2 large onions, sliced thinly length wise
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup chickpeas
1/3 cup red beans
1/2 cup lentils
2 tsp turmeric
3 cups fresh parsley (packed)
2 cups fresh cilantro (packed)
2 cups fresh mint (packed)
20 springs of fresh chives or scallions ( green portion of scallions only)
1 1/2 lb. baby spinach
2 oz reshteh
1 tbsp flour
kashk, whey ( sour cream can be substituted for kashk)
The night before this recipe is cooked, soak red beans and chickpeas in water. Sauté onion and garlic until past translucent. Then add turmeric and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes or so. Set onion and garlic aside until ready to load slow cooker.
In the morning, first turn on slow cooker. Then load onion and garlic mixture along with chickpeas, red beans, and lentils.
Add chopped herbs. Now this is where previously packaged Frozen Herbs come in handy. I used my own package that I had previously made.
Season the ingredients with salt and pepper. Then mix well.
Add spinach on top and push down as much as possible.
An hour before the recipe is ready, in a bowl mix flour with half a cup of broth from the soup. Then add back to the pot and mix well. At this point adjust seasoning as needed.
Then add noodles. If cooking on low temperature, then turn the temp to high, and continue cooking for one more hour so that the noodles cook all the way through. If cooking on high, then continue cooking without changing the temperature. When ready, serve with a dollop of Kashk.
If you are home while this recipe is made, then I suggest stirring the soup a couple of times as the spinach loses its volume as it cooks in the first hour. If you are loading the soup in the morning before going to work, then I would load the slow cooker and get it going first thing in the morning. In my case by the time I shower, get dressed, have breakfast and I am ready to go out the door, the spinach has wilted considerably.
As I mentioned before, slow cookers vary from brand to brand, so it’s important to experiment a couple times with the cooking time until you get it down to a science.
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