Monday 24 March 2014

Nowruz - The New Day, and Two Day Pasta

Persian new year, Nowruz, starts on the vernal equinox; the first day of spring. Don't you think that spring is the best ever season to begin the year? Everything is literally springing back to life, tiny arrows shooting up, miniature green fronds unfurling and tissue paper buds unravelling. 

This year it was last Thursday, the 20th of March. Everyone was working, so we waited until the weekend to celebrate, meeting up in London. Nowruz literally translates as 'the new day.' As we ate chello kabab ba morgh (minced lamb or chicken kabab and saffron rice) with salad, fresh herbs and cucumber yoghurt, it really did feel like we were celebrating  the cusp of new beginnings. 

Recently any spare moment ( I know...what are they?)  has been spent sorting out cupboards and packing things that we can't bear to part with. Giving things away, recycling, painting and tweaking. Friday evening the estate agent came to have a look at the house, and amazingly, he loved it. He genuinely kept whooping with delight as he turned a corner, opened a door or bowed his head to walk under a low tree branch. How lucky are we to find someone who could appreciate our taste...He didn't suggest we change a thing...He said our house has soul, is homely and warm and assured us that as soon as it goes on the market the offers will come pouring in...I won't hold my breath, but feel quietly confident. (Famous last words...)  We now have some idea of the budget for our new home and the search can begin with a vengeance...

So we happily tootled down to London Saturday lunch time, driving the long way through little villages first.  The weekend was so good. I haven't laughed as much in ages. Too many people were crammed around a Monopoly board until 3am Saturday's the best way to play. Some of us managed to sneak out to a restaurant to enquire about a secret surprise gathering that I'm planning for A in a couple of weeks. It's going to be hard to get everyone to London on the same evening...but I can't wait to try. 

Meanwhile I've got lots of half-written posts that I'll hopefully write up soon, and tons of recipes, ideas and projects to share...I'll try and catch up if I can. 

To start with here's the recipe for my current favourite seasonal two day pasta recipe. 

  • olive oil 
  • one red onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • one or two cloves of garlic
  • a little turmeric
  • Assorted salad leaves...watercress, rocket and spinach
  • Spinach (frozen will do if you don't have any fresh)
  • one small potato, peeled and cubed finely
  • one parsnip, peeled and cubed finely
  • one and a half pints of vegetable stock...there's a good recipe here
  • dried pasta of choice
  • sea salt
  1. Pour a little olive oil into a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook until caramelised. (EDIT, whoops I should have said that you add the onions and cook until caramelised.)
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes.
  3. Add the turmeric and cook out for a second or two.
  4. Add the root vegetables and hot stock, mix with the ingredients in the pan, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat.
  5. Add the frozen spinach and cover with a lid.
  6. Leave the soup to cook until the vegetables are tender. Check the seasoning adding the pasta according to the time required on the packet. 
  7. You may not need to add any salt if the vegetable stock has already been highly seasoned. 
This is very tasty and inexpensive bowl food perfect for busy times. It's my current favourite hearty soup and the best thing is that any left over makes amazing pasta bake:

For the pasta bake you will need:

  • enough of the soup to fill a small oven proof dish per person
  • topping eg. any or all of the following:
  • grated parmesan cheese or any other cheese of choice,  breadcrumbs, an egg
  • crushed black pepper and sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Place the dishes onto a baking tray and carefully spoon some of the pasta soup into each dish. If the soup contains a lot of liquid don't add too much of the juice.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the pasta and crack an egg into it. 
  4. Grate over with a little cheese and then season with black pepper and salt if required, remembering that some cheeses like parmesan can be very highly seasoned
  5. Place the tray in the oven and bake the pasta for fifteen minutes until piping hot and the eggs bakes.
Alternatively if you don't like eggs you could use a crumb and cheese topping or just the cheese. For a vegan alternative chopped walnuts and crumb topping would work well.

joining amanda


  1. 'A house with soul', I like that and I bet it's off the market soon and you will be on your way to the next adventure.
    Your photos today are amazing and really making me hungry!
    Happy Nowruz to you!

    1. I know I expected the estate agent to ask us to cut down trees and remove books and pictures but he was a kindred spirit. Thanks Tracey.
      Have a great week.

  2. What a wonderful collection of photographs! I so enjoyed every one of them, from city architecture, antique shop, to garden, home and kitchen. I am not at all amazed that the estate agent loved your house--from what I have seen of it from "here" I love it, too. But, it is so exciting to be on the hunt for a new home, a fresh start, a fulfillment of dreams. I love the idea of beginning the year on the vernal equinox. It seems especially fitting to me. Wishing you a very happy Nowruz, Debby! Thank you for the recipe--it looks delicious!

    1. Thanks Susan. It is exciting and the best time of year to be planning a move. It would be nice if we are settled somewhere new before the winter sets in, but if not we will just go with the flow of things.
      Have a lovely week.

  3. You have a lovely house with fantastic lighting :) I was told by a realtor once to boil water with vanilla extract to scent the air with baking when potential buyers walk through--or just bake!! Good luck and I hope you find your dream home to be!!

  4. Oh thank you Karen. Actually the estate agent has just phoned, the house isn't on the market yet but he's asked if he bring someone for a viewing on Thursday. It'll be interesting to get some feedback. Thanks for the tip I'll definitely try it.

  5. i'm a huge fan of putting an egg on leftovers and calling it a meal :) this sounds delish!

    from your photos, your house looks positively charming. best of luck!

  6. Debby I'm glad the good news about your house, so that I can see in the photos is very cozy.
    I'm sure your new home will be beautiful and also very cozy.
    Have a nice weekend

    1. Thank you Montse, we are going to look at another house tomorrow. I am very excited.
      Have a wonderful weekend too.

  7. Isn't it a nightmare moving - we have done more than I would rather - the constant packing and unpacking. So this dish is perfect for busy times and I love the baked egg, I must try that.

    1. It's a long time since we last moved so I had forgotten just how much is involved. I'm finding that food preparation has been getting simpler and simpler with the odd take away. I'll have to check out some of the Jamie dishes.

  8. Your photos are lovely, as usual!
    Your home sounds amazing.