As a young girl, Rottem Lieberson always knew when the spring festival of Shavuot was approaching. Her Persian grandmother Hanom would make fresh pasta and hang long strands of it on the laundry line outside of her window. For the holiday, Hanom would mix the pasta with lentils and beans, load it with fresh cilantro and dill, and toss it with goat’s milk yogurt. She would then top it off with kashk, a fermented and dried yogurt that’s formed into a ball and grated like parmesan, which she sourced from Tehran or Arab grocers in Israel.
Today, Rottem, who is an acclaimed cookbook author, makes the dish with dried pasta. Serve it alongside a salad for a weekend brunch or holiday meal.
1 bunch fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh dill leaves, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 ounces roquefort (or other blue cheese), crumbled
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pound dried penne
Cook the lentils: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the lentil and stir. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the lentils and set aside.
Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes until softened and golden. Add the turmeric and stir, cook for 1 more minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Add the yogurt and water to a large and deep pan over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the cilantro or parsley and dill, garlic, rinsed beans, and lentils and stir. Add the salt, pepper, roquefort, and lemon juice. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes.
Cook the pasta in a separate pot according to the instructions on the package until just al dente, and drain.
Add the cooked pasta into the yogurt sauce, stir well, and cook for about 2 minutes.
Pour the pasta mixture into a serving bowl and garnish with the fried onions and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.