Persian Nan o Paneer (Bread with Cheese)
A Persian cheese plate is a perfect starter for a hot summer meal. Persian Lighvan cheese made from sheep’s milk is traditionally used in this dish, but as it’s hard to find, feta cheese — especially Bulgarian feta — is a good substitute. The fresh herbs, eaten as a main component in this dish, beautifully complement the cheese.
- Rinse and drain the feta cheese. Place on a 12-inch serving platter.
- Toast the walnuts in a 350°F oven for 5–6 minutes or until the nuts begin to smell fragrant. Place on the platter near the cheese.
- Rinse the herbs, pat dry, and remove the leaves from the stems. Place the leaves in little mounds on the platter.
- Add 1⁄3 cup of sour cherry preserves on the platter along with small watermelon wedges or cucumber slices.
- Set out another plate or basket for bread.
- To eat, place a small piece of cheese in the center of a portion of the bread, top the cheese with walnuts and a big pinch of one or more of the fresh herbs, and finish with a small teaspoonful of the cherry preserves. The fruit or cucumber may be added to the “sandwich” or eaten separately.
- Never let nuts get too golden in the oven. They will continue to “fry” in their own oils even after being removed from the heat source.
- When purchasing nuts, double their weight to estimate the volume. For example, 8 ounces of nuts will measure 2 cups or double the weight by volume.