persian jeweled rice

There was a time when I stacked unread magazines. Hoarded issues of The New Yorker, Bon Appetit and Harvard Business Review, for the thought of opening a single issue would send me into a state of apoplexy. My life, for a time, could not handle complexity. I was a fragile thing, prone to only managing complexity in small doses, so I have to say that after four years of living under anesthesia, it feels good to READ. It feels joyous to immerse myself in a magazine and make recipes that take an extraordinary amount of time, just because.

I’ll also have you know that I’m reading, which has been helping tremendously in terms of my story writing. In the past month, I’ve devoured Nick Flynn’s The Reenactments, Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go, Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs, V. Nabokov’s The Eye, Bill Clegg’s Ninety Days, Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem (re-read), among a pile of art books acquired in Paris, and I’m finally, FINALLY, keeping up with my Bon Appetit. Which brings me to this lovely dish made in the evening during a long, cold weekend.

I’m going to hold on to this feeling for as long as I possibly, possibly can.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit
1/4 cup unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 cups basmati rice
Kosher salt
1 orange
1/2 cup sugar
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchstick-size pieces*
1/4 cup dried barberries or 1/2 cup dried cranberries*
1/4 cup raisins*
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric


Dried barberries, sold as zereshk, are available at Middle Eastern markets and However, I had dried cherries, Turkish apricots (which I finely diced) and golden raisins on hand, which made this recipe sing. I’d also use dried mango or blueberries, if you have them as well. Use what you have on hand when it comes to dried fruit instead of making the fuss of ordering items on online. Unless that’s your bag, in which case, Kalustyans is the BUSINESS.

Also, I used 3/4 cup of pre-chopped (cubed) carrots, if you’re looking to save a little time.

Be forewarned, this recipe will take a little over two hours from start to finish. Don’t cut corners, don’t NOT read the recipe — the joy is in the process, in the alchemy of taking simple ingredients to make extraordinary flavors and textures. This recipe was calming for me, methodic in a way that baking feels, so I invite you to take it easy, spend time with this because the results will be well worth the journey. You’ll love the candied taste of the orange peel, the smokiness of the nuts and the crunchiness of the rice and charred bits at the bottom of the pan. I felt AWAKE after eating this rice, it was that GOOD.

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate, let cool, then coarsely chop. Spread almonds on the same baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 5–8 minutes; let cool. Set nuts aside.

Place rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Cook rice in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until grains have lengthened but are still firm, 6–7 minutes; drain and rinse under cold water. Spread rice on another rimmed baking sheet; let cool.

Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from orange and thinly slice lengthwise (reserve flesh for another use). Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add orange zest and carrots, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, 15–20 minutes; drain and set aside (discard syrup).

Combine barberries and raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water; let soak 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Place saffron in another small bowl and add 1/4 cup hot water; set aside.

Heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, 8–10 minutes. Add cardamom, cumin, turmeric, and 1 tablespoon saffron mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Reduce heat to low, add barberries and raisins, and cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved nuts and orange zest and carrot mixture; season with salt. Set fruit and nut mixture aside.


Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium heat. Add half of rice, spreading evenly; top with fruit and nut mixture, then remaining rice, spreading evenly. Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke 5–6 holes in rice all the way through to bottom of pot (to help release steam and help rice cook evenly).

Drizzle remaining saffron mixture over rice. Place a clean kitchen towel over pot, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and secure loose edges of towel on top of lid, using a rubber band or masking tape.

Cook until pot begins to steam, 5–8 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and cook, without stirring, until rice is tender and bottom layer of rice is browned and crisp, 30–40 minutes.

Scoop rice into a wide serving bowl, breaking bottom crust into pieces.

DO AHEAD: Fruit and nut mixture can be made 2 days ahead. Cover fruit and nut mixture and remaining saffron mixture separately and chill.


a moveable feast: mango, avocados, greens + guac!

To say that every day I wake to a typhoon or a circus or something in between would be a grand understatement. The past few months have been exhilarating, thrilling, frightening and magical all at once. Not only did I have a chance to explore unknown cities, I’ve had the luxury of rediscovering art, finding it, having it find me, and somewhere along the way I’ve managed to create a little bit of art of my own. I’m starting to learn who I can trust and who I can’t. I’ve become weary of the intensity of people, and am now drawn to the quietness and calm of others. I say Good Morning, I read Faust, I write longer emails to friends (from one line to a paragraph!). I don’t know what I want next, but I think I do. Every day is a stutter, a series of starts and stops, and the constant, the satisfying threadline through all of this has been food. Always the food.

I had a dear friend come round this weekend, and I prepared a feast that made us swoon. Verdant, flavorful and bright, it was a delicious melange of texture and taste, and not for a moment did we feel we were missing something because it was vegetarian and virtuous (or at least, semi-virtuous, as we had a heaping of fried millet falafel). Rather, we were sated, full, and excited to dive into my stash of French dark chocolates.

We spent four hours trading stories about our respective experiences the past few months, and it occurred to me that the other crucial threadline, perhaps one that supersedes food, are friends. Those great, magical people who are always there, who talk you off ledges, who encourage you to climb new ones, and those who tell you that although the millet falafels are far from attractive, they are DAMN GOOD.

For the salad
2 cups packed baby kale
1 cup packed spinach
1 cup packed arugula
1/2 cup cashews, toasted in a dry pan
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 oz soft cheese of your choice (I used a truffled cow’s milk cheese that had the texture of brie, however, you can use goat, brie, or gorgonzola)
1/4 sundried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt/cracked pepper to taste

For the mango + avocado salad, dressed in a lime balsamic vinaigrette: Recipe adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
Coarse sea salt
1 batch Balsamic-Lime Vinaigrette (we didn’t use all of the dressing, but used about 1/4 of it. That might have also been the case because I knocked over the dressing and spilled it all over the table.)
A small handful of fresh basil leaves

For the basil-lime vinaigrette
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

For the guacamole
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 stalks of scallions, fine dice (all parts: white, green, light green)
juice + zest of half a lime
Sea salt + pepper to taste

For the salad: Toss all of the ingredients above. Only add the olive oil when you’re about to serve, as the leaves will wilt.

For the mango + lime salad + vinaigrette: Whisk the vinegar, brown rice syrup, and lime juice together in a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keeps well in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. Alternate slices of mango and avocado on a serving platter and scatter with a pinch of sea salt. Drizzle with the Balsamic-Lime vinaigrette; tear the basil leaves and sprinkle them over the top. Serve immediately.

For the guacamole: Cut + core the avocado and crush the meat with the tines of your fork. Add in all of the ingredients and serve with carrots, chips, or strips of red bell peppers.


moroccan carrot ribbons + black lentil salad

Truth be told, a lot of folks don’t actually understand why I’ve embarked on a month-long break from white flour, refined sugars and dairy. From intense Q&A sessions (Wait, so does this mean you’re vegan?! Why are you doing this to yourself? Don’t you miss cheese?) to the cashier at my morning coffee joint inquiring if I’m on a diet because I haven’t ordered my buttered multi-grain bagel in a week, I’ve been met with THE QUESTIONS.

Simply put, I was inspired to pursue these experiment because I love food and miss the diversity of it. I miss the excitement over what to make for dinner; the morning bagel has settled me into a slump. I never want to be complacent about anything — love, life, the food I set on the table — so when I found myself easing into the status quo, of ordering the same pesto pasta every night of the week, I put myself on pause and ordered a reset. And while it’s been challenging, it’s probably the most exciting gastronomic experiment I’ve done in years. I’ve discovered that almond milk is delicious, that gluten-free has come a long, long way since the cardboard breads of yore, and I miss the simplicity of flavorful salads and the myriad of ways in which they can be prepared.

And I miss gawking at beautiful meals, and I miss finding new ways to prepare them. So when I had a pound of lentils in my larder and a handful of carrots, I started an investigation to find the perfect recipe.

Enter Sarah Britton’s delightful and delicious Moroccan Carrot Ribbons + Black Lentil Salad. AHHH!! I missed the waft of cumin, the sizzle and spit of anise seeds as they fry on the pan. Preparing this dish was such a visceral memory of all the amazing recipes I used to make ages ago, and I had a fantastic time preparing this salad as I did consuming it.

The salad has a sweet, yet smoky flavor and you’ll love the tender strips of carrots against the meaty lentils. The prunes offer a terrific texture play, and this can be eaten as a main dish or a side with your favorite roast chicken. Enjoy!

Moroccan Carrot Ribbons and Black Lentils, Recipe courtesy of Whole Living Daily.
1 cup black (beluga) lentils
2-3 large carrots
1 small red onion
6 prunes
½ cup each chopped mint and cilantro

1 tbsp. cumin seeds
½ tbsp. green anise seeds
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp. ground coriander
pinch of cayenne or crushed chilies
1 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. raw honey or agave
3 tbsp cold pressed olive oil
pinch of sea salt

Carrot Marinade:
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
pinch of salt

Whisk the carrot marinade together in large bowl. Wash the carrots and using a peeler, peel long strips lengthwise and place in the bowl with the marinade. Let sit while you make the rest of the salad.

Soak the lentils first if possible. Drain and rinse well. Cook the lentils according to the package instructions (about 20-30 minutes) with a few pinches of salt, just until al dente – be careful not to over cook them. Drain and lightly rinse.

While the lentils are cooking, make the dressing. First, toast the cumin and anise seeds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant. Remove from heat and using a mortar and pestle, give the seeds and rough grind (this is optional). Add all remaining dressing ingredients, whisk well. Add the warm lentils and marinated carrots, including any leftover marinade. Slice prunes and onions thinly and add. Add washed and chopped herbs. Season to taste. Serve.


eat here: s’nice, brooklyn/new york

s'nice It’s rare that you’ll hear me raving over a vegetarian joint — I love my fowl and pork way too much to ever give them up, however, S’nice provides an airy atmosphere and tasty sandwiches worth savoring. While most of the menu is vegan (tempeh, seitan, and textured vegetarian protein serve as meat replacements), the cheese paninis (the brie, sliced apple and arugula sandwich, dressed in raspberry vinaigrette, is divine), seasonal organic salads and fresh noodles mixed with kale are unbelievably filling and delicious.

I spent a year ensconced in the Brooklyn location trying to find myself, and the friendly staff, the speedy wifi, and fresh-brewed coffee made the journey markedly easier. And breakfast infinitely more tasty!!!

So if you’re in the market for tasty, healthy fare, check out the Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan S’nice locations.