sheet pan ras al asfour

sheet pan ras al asfour

My great grandfather, baba Paulos, always said that hot drinks cool you down. He was known to sip scalding hot chai outside in the middle of summer. And apparently, science agrees. But I’ve always been more of a cool drinks in summer/hot drinks in winter kind of person, despite this inherited familial wisdom. And as it starts to heat up in Hong Kong (hello, perpetual nose sunburn! Even with all the SPF50 in the world...), I usually start moving away from stews and toward sheet pan dinners this time of year. As it starts to warm up wherever in the world you are, I highly recommend taking your favorite soups and stews, throwing all the ingredients on a sheet pan, coating everything in a combination of seasonings and oil, and roasting until cooked through and nicely caramelized.

Today I’m sharing a sheet pan version of my family’s ras al asfour (which literally means “birds’ heads,” but just serves as a description of the teeny tiny meatballs). All the flavors and features of the original stew are present here (most prominently: tomato, potato, tiny little meat balls, tangy pomegranate molasses, and baharat), but in a much less stick-to-your-bones mid-winter kind of way. Or if you’re like my great grandfather, stew season is just starting up, and you might want to give the original a try instead. In any case, stews are appropriate year-round in my book, so you can’t really go wrong, but if you’re looking for something a little lighter, this is the ras al asfour for you.

sheet pan ras al asfour
sheet pan ras al asfour

sheet pan ras al asfour

yield: 4 servings
active time: 25 minutes
total time: 50 minutes
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the meatballs

  • 3/4 pound (340g) ground beef

  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (14g)

  • 1/2 of 1 jalapeño, seeds and pith removed, finely minced (15g)

  • 1/3 cup finely minced parsley leaves (25g)

  • 1/4 cup finely minced red onion (35g)

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed through a press (5g)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (3.5g) (or to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon baharat (2g)

  1. Combine the ground beef, pomegranate molasses, jalapeño, parsley, red onion, garlic, salt, and baharat. Stop mixing once it's well-combined.

  2. Shape into about 50 very small meatballs, about 1 heaping teaspoon (not tablespoon) each. To shape, squeeze one in the palm of your hand, and then use both of your palms to gently roll the ball around to smooth it out.

everything else

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (14g)

  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (7g)

  • 2 teaspoons baharat (4g)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (3.5g) (or to taste)

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, chopped in half (300g)

  • 1/2 of 1 small red onion, sliced (55g)

  • 2 cups 1/2-inch-diced potatoes (240g)

  • the above meatballs (raw)

  • (optional) rice or bread for serving

  • (optional) greens for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C).

  2. Stir together the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, baharat, and salt.

  3. Combine the tomatoes, red onion, and potatoes, and pour the olive oil mixture over the veggies. Toss everything together to coat evenly. Add the meatballs, and then very gently fold everything together to coat the meatballs.

  4. Spread everything out on a sheet pan into 1 even layer. If any of the meatballs have fallen apart, nudge them back together. Bake for about 20 minutes, just until the potatoes and meatballs are cooked through, and the whole thing is caramelized (if it’s caramelizing too quickly, cover with aluminum foil for the last few minutes). Serve over rice or alongside bread, and optionally also with greens.

sheet pan ras al asfour
sheet pan ras al asfour

za'atar breakfast skillet

za'atar skillet

It’s so hard to know what kind of recipe to post the week after Christmas. With New Year’s resolutions around the corner, no one really wants to bake, but it’s not time for penitential eating quite yet. And after all the feasting and entertaining, everyone’s a little cooked out too. So I thought I’d post a recipe for something easy, practical, and delicious: a za’atar skillet with wilted spinach and fried eggs. It’s nothing fancy, just a simple breakfast made with simple ingredients. It’s the kind of thing you’d find in your favorite diner—a bed of perfectly crispy potatoes, topped with a few of your favorite veggies, and sunny-side-up eggs (but here, I’ve added za’atar and a yogurt tahini sauce, because I couldn’t resist).

While one-pan-wonders are indeed wonderful, I like to use two pans for this, to make sure the spinach doesn’t make the potatoes soggy. But you can use the same pan you used to cook the eggs, which saves on cleanup. If you prefer scrambled, poached, or over-easy, feel free to go with your egg of choice. And if you feel like it, you can even crack them right on top of the potatoes, and throw them under the broiler for a few minutes. If you don’t feel like spinach, most other veggies work wonderfully here—try kale, blistered cherry tomatoes, or zucchini. This recipe is very adaptable, and the basic concept (which you should always remember) is tried and true: dusting za’atar on potatoes will never lead you wrong.

za'atar skillet
za'atar skillet

za’atar breakfast skillet

yield: 4 servings
total time: 25 minutes
download a
PDF to print

  • neutral oil with a high smoke point (e.g., olive oil, but not extra virgin)

  • 1 pound potatoes, small-diced

  • Salt

  • 2 tablespoons green za'atar

  • 2 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons tahini

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 3 to 4 eggs

  • 6 ounces spinach leaves

  • 1 scallion, greens chopped

  1. Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons oil in a non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium or medium-high heat, until the oil is hot enough that a potato sizzles when it touches it.

  2. Add the potatoes, along with 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste). Spread them out evenly over the bottom of the skillet, and let them sit for a couple minutes before stirring them. Stir every couple minutes for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown and cooked through. Once they're done, remove from heat and stir in the za'atar.

  3. While you wait on the potatoes, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, water, and a pinch of salt, until it's totally smooth.

  4. Also while you wait, fry your eggs however you like. Here's how I do it: Heat a small skillet over high heat for at least 3 minutes, until it’s very hot. Add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, swirl it around, and immediately crack an egg wherever the oil is pooling. Be very careful—it will splatter violently. While the egg is cooking, season it with some salt and (carefully!) baste it by spooning hot oil onto the whites to help them cook faster. The egg is done once the whites are set and brown on the bottom and around the edges (just about 2 minutes). Remove to a plate and repeat if you’re making multiple servings (replace some of the oil as you go) (eggs inspired by Smitten Kitchen).

  5. Once the eggs are done, remove them to a plate, pour off the old oil, replace with a teaspoon of new oil, and add the spinach leaves and a pinch of salt. Keep over high heat to wilt the spinach (stir it constantly for about 2 to 3 minutes, until it's bright green and wilted). Most of the liquid should cook off, but if the spinach looks watery after 3 minutes, wring it out with the back of a spoon and strain away the liquid.

  6. Combine the spinach with the potatoes, stir everything together, top with the yogurt sauce, crispy eggs, green onions, and a little extra za'atar, and serve.

za'atar skillet