So You Want to Cook Like Noreen Wasti?

Figs, fall, & foul — say that fast three times.

Perhaps this is not exactly the Dinner Plans #47 you were expecting in your inbox. If it feels like things are a little bit different around here, that’s because they are. We’ve restructured our weekly emails a bit to make them more digestible — pun intended. On Sundays (like today!) anyone and everyone will get a menu from a guest editor or one that caters to a highly specific situation, like cooking for friends who are vegan, gluten-free and keto (and somehow still your friends) or just wanting to recreate a dreamy, olive-oil drenched meal from Cervo’s in your own apartment. Paid subscribers will also receive our new weekly “Specials” menu each Monday — a roundup of the seasonal, sensational recipes we plan on cooking that week. These changes will allow for even more exciting stuff on the horizon and make reading Sifted feel cleaner and crisper, like a perfect snap pea. And if you don't like them, let us know. You can always email us at sifted.newsletter@gmail.com with your honest feedback, suggestions, or rating out of 5 stars — just don’t do us dirty like Pete Wells did Eleven Madison. With that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff! This week’s Dinner Plans come from recipe developer, food stylist, writer, and taker of some of the most gorgeous food photography on the capital ‘I’ Internet: Noreen Wasti. Read on for her peak autumnal menu of bright bites, comforting bowls, and *swoon* one-bowl snacking cakes, plus an original recipe from Noreen’s kitchen to your lucky inboxes.


NOREEN WASTI’S DINNER PLANS

  1. Talk Autumn to Me. I feel like as soon as the temperature dips below 70 degrees, there is so much “it’s fall y’all” going on. Even though Autumn has been declared the season of the basic B, my New England roots have me giddy at the slightest crisp breeze. This is a strictly no PSL zone, but I will be making a beautiful jewel-toned salad. Willow Wisp Farm at Union Square Greenmarket had the most beautiful speckled and ombre magic radicchio, perfect for this salad recipe I developed for Brightland. A tangy sumac vinaigrette, salty seared halloumi, and instead of all that citrus (it’s still too early), I’m going to use some thinly sliced apples — because #fall.

  1. Foul Me Once, Shame on You. Foul Me Twice, Shame on Me. Foul medames is a popular Middle Eastern dish that consists of stewed fava beans with a few spices, aromatics, and lots of olive oil. While everyone else is spending six days making a pot of heirloom Rancho Gordo beans, I’m cracking open a good ol’ can of foul from my local Middle Eastern grocery store. Heat up some olive oil in a pan with a couple cloves of thinly sliced garlic. Add the foul with a splash of water to rehydrate the favas and a generous pinch of salt. Once warmed, transfer to a big platter — then it’s all about the toppings. Many, many glugs of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of ground cumin, aleppo pepper, and sumac. Chopped onion and parsley must also be invited to the party. Foul is actually traditionally eaten for breakfast, so I throw a couple of boiled eggs on there for that breakfast for dinner vibe we love. Don’t sleep on the warm pita, you need a vessel to scoop it all up.

  1. Aloo Keema. You’re just not Pakistani if some version of keema doesn’t appear on your dinner table every week. Aloo keema is a spiced dish of stewed ground beef with potato — it’s the ultimate comfort food and reminds me of my childhood. With lots of practice and voice note coaching from my family, I’ve finally been able to make it at home, and it’s almost up to par. You know when you get restaurant fatigue from eating out too much (a consequence of NYC living) and you just want something homemade? My return to “home food” is always aloo keema — it’s the reset I need.

  2. All Seasons Cake. I make this standard, one-bowl, no-fuss basic cake all the time with whatever seasonal fruit looks good. You can adorn it however you like, which for me, always involves some sort of edible flower petal situation. More is more. I recently made a version topped with bananas, figs, sesame seeds, and brown sugar. It had this incredible caramelly texture on top and it was just so good. I’m thinking apples with a tahini drizzle and lots of flaky salt would also be incredible. Take this recipe and make the cake you want to see in this world.


OUR BBOTW:

  • Gab: I’m a longtime lover of concretes — the Midwestern mix of caramel, candy or cookie dough and creamy frozen custard, served with an extra long spoon. I ate a life-altering one at a Culver’s in Wisconsin many years ago, and have been getting my fix ever since via Shake Shack’s excellent version. On my most recent trip, though, I learned their concrete menu had been discontinued, and I walked out with a cup of their vanilla frozen custard un-concrete-ified. On its own, I realized how much the extra egg yolks that, by definition, set frozen custard apart from ice cream, lend an egginess that intensifies the deep vanilla flavor, the same way they come together in a perfect pastel de nata. The texture is so dense and so thick that it’s almost chewy, interesting and satisfying enough on its own to skip the superfluous mini chocolate chips next time.

  • Court: Football fans have the Superbowl, baseball fans the World Series, other sports fans… their sports things. Eating is my sport of choice, and my friends and I decided to decree this week our Superbowl: Rib Week. In theory, Rib Week is an entire week dedicated to my grilled meat of choice. In practice, it pretty much just entailed finally trying one particularly good rack of baby back ribs from our new neighborhood fave, The Nuaa Table. According to the menu, they’re smoked with jasmine tea and then basted in a sweet Sriracha laced-BBQ sauce, but all I know is they were gooooood. Like the kind of ribs with which you forgo a fork and knife entirely and tear into with your hands — so tender they render utensils useless. The spicy basil fries beside them were shockingly good for a self proclaimed “slow food movement” Thai restaurant, making me feel as though I was in some kind of alternate universe Chili’s. We devoured two racks between our table, licking our fingers clean and declaring, “Long Live Rib Week!” I encourage you to embrace and discover your own personal Rib Week and if you know anyone who works at Scripps (Food Network’s corporate daddy) HMU— I imagine it could be a perfect companion piece to Shark Week, complete with corporate sponsorship from McDonalds’ McRib. I can just picture the porky blimp now…


What’s the best thing you’ve cooked in the last year? Cool, now that you’ve thought about it, drop the recipe here. Don’t gatekeep bb!
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