Persian Nan o Paneer (Bread with Cheese)

Tina Wasserman
Recipe by
Tina Wasserman

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.

Learn more about the history of Jewish Persian food and find additional recipes.

8 ounces Bulgarian or other fine feta cheese
1⁄2 cup large walnut pieces or halves
1⁄4 cup fresh basil leaves
1⁄4 cup fresh mint
1⁄4 cup fresh tarragon
1⁄3 cup imported sour cherry preserves
Small watermelon wedges or cucumber slices
1–2 sheets sesame Barbari bread, pita bread, or soft flour tortillas
  1. Rinse and drain the feta cheese. Place on a 12-inch serving platter.
  2. 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.
  3. Rinse the herbs, pat dry, and remove the leaves from the stems. Place the leaves in little mounds on the platter.
  4. Add 1⁄3 cup of sour cherry preserves on the platter along with small watermelon wedges or cucumber slices.
  5. Set out another plate or basket for bread.
  6. 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.
Additional Notes
  • 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.