For years, I didn't know the proper name for pilaf noodles.
I lived down the block from a wonderful Middle Eastern market, where the owner knew me from my days as a food writer for the local newspaper. Whenever I would ask for those noodles, he knew just what I meant.
And when Ted would go to the store, I'd write pilaf noodles on his shopping list.
It wasn't until many years later that the owner of another market taught me the Arabic name: chayreyé.
Lovely, I know, but I'm kind of sweet on the name pilaf noodles, and I guess I always will be.
I'll probably always be sweet on the noodles themselves, too: thin bits of wheat-and-egg, two inches long, delicate and adaptable to more than just pilaf.
Store noodles in a glass jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, and if you use a handful here and there, they'll last for years.
Lentil noodle soup (shurbat rushta)
Simple and healthy! Serves 6.
1 cup brown lentils
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
A pinch of cinnamon
1/4 preserved lemon rind, rinsed and chopped (optional)
1 cup pilaf noodles
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Agave nectar or honey, to taste
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped, or 1 scallion, sliced on the diagonal
Rinse the lentils and place in a 3-quart sauce pan with chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook, partially covered, for 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the onion over low heat for 4-5 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir in a pinch of cinnamon, and add the onions to the lentils.
Add preserved lemon, noodles, salt and pepper, and cook, partially covered, for 15 minutes or until both lentils and noodles are done. (If needed, add more water, a few Tbsp at a time, to keep lentils from getting too thick.) Taste, adjust seasonings, and if you wish, add a small squirt of agave nectar or honey.
Remove from heat, garnish with parsley and/or scallion, and serve hot.
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