Sometimes I just have to cook for myself. I really do. I cook all day for others and sometimes it just feels food to cook for me. Anyhow, this is what I had for dinner tonight (click any of the highlighted words for recipes)…moudardara with lamb (rice with lentils and vermicelli), hummus, labna (yogurt cheese), and kabis malfouf (spicy pickled cabbage). For more Lebanese-inspired recipes, click here.
This is a variation of my more traditional Lebanese Lentil Soup recipe; in this version I added many more vegetables. This is super easy to make and yes it tastes as good as it looks. The vegetables I added are simply suggestions (it’s what I had on hand), use whatever you like. This is easily a meal in itself, and if you reduce the liquid and make it thick enough you can serve it over rice. And while it is a large-ish quantity, this soup freezes well. This soup is delicious and appropriate year-round but is especially fitting during the colder months.
1 bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cups diced cabbage
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Lebanese seven spice mix
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup lentils
1 (15oz.) can diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken broth
1 potato, peeled and diced
2 cups (about 5oz. Fresh spinach, chopped
½ cup lemon juice
Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat then add the onion pepper, carrot, and cabbage. Sweat the vegetables for a few minutes then add the garlic; cook the vegetables a couple minutes longer. Stir in the seven spice mix, turmeric, and salt; cook for a minute or so, then add the lentils, tomatoes, chicken broth, and potato. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cook the soup for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it becomes too thick add additional broth or water. Stir in the spinach and cook it for about 5 minutes. Then stir in the lemon juice and simmer another five minutes, or until the lentils are very soft.
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Mix the spices together and store in an airtight container, or use as needed.
So this is a variation of a variation of a variation…but geeze ‘o man is it good. What, you may wonder, am I talking about. Garlic mayonnaise and it’s many variation. The south of France (and Italy and Spain) have Aioli (the French word for garlic is ail), in the Middle East there is the potent Toum (which simply translates as garlic), and in Greece there is Skordalia (not sure of the etymology of this one). And then there’s my most recent version I’ll call beaonnaise [sic]. But I’m jumping ahead. I love to eat a sandwich at lunch, and I also love the flavor of garlic. And in my continued effort to eat healthier (minus the eggs and low grade oil in most mayonnaise) I made this and it is really easy (and super delicious). I just recently found out that beans–and especially chickpeas–contain lecithin, which of course is the same emulsifying agent that is in egg yolks. And we all know that beans in general are really good for you, and so is olive oil, so I replaced the egg yolk with chic peas. Delicious. You can cut down on or increase the amount of garlic as you like, and with the aid of a blender this will take about 2 minutes to make. And because there are no raw egg yolks this will last a while in the fridge…but it likely will not because it is so delicious.
Okay, so this is good. Really good. Delicious (if I do say so my self). It’s easy to make (about 30 minutes once the vegetables are cut) and it’s likely pretty healthy, too. It’s a basic braised chicken and vegetable dish with Middle Eastern seasoning. This, like most of the recipes on this blog, is just a suggestion and not carved in stone. I used the ingredients I happened to have at hand; if you have or like other vegetables or meats use them. As far as the seasonings go I love this combination…sweet spices mingling with seared vegetables and meat and then simmered together. Your house will smell amazing while it cooks (if you live in an apartment building neighbors may stop by). I didn’t have any lemon on hand, if I did I may have finished it with that and a bit of parsley. And if for some odd reason it doesn’t all get eaten…leftovers will taste even better.
Okay, so you’re going to love this. It’s a type of homemade Lebanese cheese that is easy to make and super flavorful. It is different from labneh (which is simply strained yogurt) in that it is cooked. It’s more along the lines of a homemade Italian ricotta or Indian paneer, only instead of being made with just milk it is made with yogurt…and this is what gives it such a lovely tangy flavor. Herbs and spices are often added to it either as it cooks or shortly thereafter (smoked paprika is my personal addition, and if you do not care for spicy food omit the crushed hot pepper). And then after it is formed, the balls are rolled in an herb and spice blend known as za’atar (which is usually available at most Middle Eastern or ethnic grocers. Anyhow, the resulting cheese is truly addicting. It can be eaten as is, or also as a salad topped with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, parley and a liberal coating of good quality olive oil.
So of course I always say how easy and delicious the recipes that I post are (at least most of them) but this time I really mean it. This is a play on the classic shawarma chick (or beef or lamb) that you find at any Middle Eastern or Turkish restaurant. It is basically chicken marinated in spices and yogurt and then grilled (or roast). And geeze o’ man is it delicious. Classically it is sliced thin and eaten in a pita with tahini dressing, but today I diced it and ate it on a Greek salad with feta and vinaigrette (yum!). Anyhow, the really easy recipe is below.
This is a variation on the classic Middle Eastern fatayer (savory pie). These are slightly different in a few ways. One is that rather than using white refined flour for the dough I used 100% whole wheat (delicious). I also used an egg wash on the dough and added sesame seeds. And in the filling I added a bit of crushed hot pepper to give it a slight spiciness. I also made them small(ish) appetizer size, but if you’d like they are equally good when made much larger. These are delicious on their own or with a dip (yogurt-garlic dip is great). Eat them hot straight from the oven, at room temperature, or even chilled; they are healthy and delicious either way. But one thing is for sure…you won’t be able to eat just one
This is something I made for an employee meal today. It is really, really delicious (I ate so much I wished I had a bed to take a nap afterwards) and of course really simple to make. It is basically a hummus recipe layered (loaded, actually) with all sorts of good things. But the prize, or the topper, is the seven-spice chicken. Seven Spice blend is a common Lebanese spice mix and there are as many versions of this as there are people who make it. The Arabic word for this blend is baharat, which simply means spices. In addition to the hummus and chicken, I also layered in raw, thinly sliced red onion, sun-dried tomatoes (I would use fresh in the summer months), and whole leaves of both flat-leaf parsley and cilantro (fresh coriander). And just before serving I drizzled the entire platter with a liberal amount of extra virgin olive oil (yum!). I hope you try this recipe…you’ll be glad you did.
So yes, these little vegetarian/vegan nuggets are as good as they look (bet you can’t eat just one). And yes (as usual) they are really simple–exceedingly simple–to make. They are not only a play on the classic falafel and taratoor sauce (chickpea fritters and sesame-garlic sauce), they are actually a variation of an earlier post for this recipe (broccoli falafel, click here for that recipe). This, of course, is only a guide (as usual, as well). You can add or delete whichever vegetable you have at hand or like (haricots verts, by the way are just fancy words for a French-style green bean; though any will do in this recipe). And the taratoor sauce is a play on the classic Lebanese tahini-garlic sauce. In this version I added a couple roast red peppers (I used canned this time of year, but in the summer months I’d use fresh; click here to learn how to roast a fresh pepper). For the spice in the taratoor recipe I–being from Buffalo–used Frank’s Hot Sauce (the same sauce that goes into chicken wing recipes), which is a rather mild sauce; if you choose a spicier sauce you may consider to reduce the amount. Anyhow, as mentions, these are really easy and super-delicious (addictingly delicious). Recipes are below.
This is a variation on traditional American-style fried chicken in a few ways. Firstly, there are no bones in the chicken legs (they cook quicker with the bones removed and are much more flavorful than the breast). Also, the chicken is first marinated in yogurt, herbs, and spices, then dredged in whole wheat flour, which offers added texture. Anyhow, this is not a greasy chicken recipe (if the oil is hot enough) and it is super delicious. You can eat it as is (as an entree with side dishes), on a sandwich, or with any number of dipping sauces. I diced it and rolled it in taco shells with salsa verde (here’s that recipe). If nothing else, I do know one thing about this recipe…bet you can’t eat just one.
This is a really colorful, fragrant, and delicious rice dish. In the recipe I used lamb, but it could just as well be made with beef or chicken (or vegetarian). The only difference(s) from the recipe pictured and the one listed below is that I also added a pinch of turmeric to the rice with the other spices, and a handful of green beans a few minutes before it was finished cooking. I hope you try this; it is really easy to make and super-delicious. For additional Lebanese/Middle Eastern inspired recipes, click here.
1/2 small bunch mint, minced
This is yet another variation of my Lebanese chicken-and-rice recipe. The reason I say “sort of” in the title of this post is that I didn’t use ground lamb–which is in the original recipe–and I color/slightly flavor the dish with turmeric (along with the other spices), which is not normally in this recipe. In addition, in the recipe pictured I used a whole split chicken (which I poached in chicken broth before using the broth and the chicken in the recipe); the recipe listed below utilizes just the chicken breast. Anyhow, if you’d like more Lebanese inspired recipes, or to see this one being made, click here.
Heat the olive oil over high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sauté the chicken on both sides until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and vermicelli to the pan and cook until golden, then add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Add the cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and salt; sauté two minutes while stirring. Add the onions and pasta back to the pan along with the rice, stirring to fully coat it with with the oil and spices. Then add the chicken breasts to the pan, pushing them gently into the rice. Pour in the broth and cover the pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Remove the pot from the stove and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with minced parsley.
Kibbeh and Kafta are two Lebanese meat recipes that are somewhat similar yet at the same time a bit different. While they are both often made with lamb they are equally good when made with beef (as the recipe pictured is). And the recipe can take on many forms, this is just one example. I made this for staff lunch today. If you’d like to read more about what Kibbeh and Kafta are, and how they relate to me, read this post (which contains more photos, a variation on this recipe, and links). At any rate, this is really easy to make a super delicious.
1/2 small bunch mint, minced
This recipe is classic Middle Eastern Food. It is also easy to make and so delicious that you won’t be able to stop eating it. The recipe I’ve included here, of course, is a variation on the traditional. This is a dish that is often eaten during Lent and for that reason usually remains vegetarian, but in this recipe I’ve included chicken broth. I also used long grain rice (basmati, actually) but you can use brown rice if you want to make it healthier (but you’ll have to increase the liquid and cooking time). And while much of the flavor comes from the caramelized onion, I also added broken pieces of vermicelli which were browned with the pasta. While I kept the seasonings simple, you can add a pinch of cumin, cinnamon, allspice, or hot pepper. I did add a pinch of turmeric for color (though it is not included in the recipe); hence it’s yellow hue. I made this for staff lunch today while at work, and my only problem with it is that I packaged up a container of leftovers for dinner and forgot it in the fridge at work…
Anyhow, this is really easy to make and super delicious. It can be used as a side dish or eaten as a main course. It can also be serve hot, at room temp, or even chilled. Here’s the recipe and a few pictures of it being prepared.
(For additional Lebanese/Middle Easter inspired recipes, click here.)
Yes I’ve posted this recipe before–or many variations of it–but it’s one of my favorites and I can’t help but post it again in hopes that more people try it. This is yet another variation of the classic Lebanese Chicken-and-Rice recipe that I grew up with. While this version still has toasted vermicelli, I used whole wheat pasta, and rather than white rice I used brown, which increases its cooking time by about 25 minutes. Also, the recipe usually contains ground beef or lamb as well; this I omitted entirely, not that I don’t enjoy it, I’m simply making a conscious effort to reduce my red meat consumption (but not give it up entirely). I also added some sliced green beans to the dish for color, flavor, and added texture. Anyhow, if you’ve never made this recipe or tasted it you are in for a real treat when you do. It is without doubt one of my favorites and the aroma as it cooks will make your mouth water.
This dish, by the way, goes great with a salad dressed with this mint-garlic vinaigrette. If you’d like more information and additional pictures of this dish–or variations of it–click here, here, or here.
On a somewhat different note, I’ve mentioned in the past that two pugs own me (yes, I’m aware of that wording). Tonight while I preparing the above meal they were acting extra excited, pacing back and forth. I was off to a late start as it was and was occupied with preparing my dinner. I thought maybe the aroma of chicken cooking was making them a little crazy. Then I remembered…I was so occupied (and late) with cooking my dinner I had completely forgotten to feed them their dinner. You can see the look of concern in their eyes in the bottom photo of this post. If they could speak they’d likely have a few choice words for me. And yes, I felt so bad I gave them each a bit of chicken 🙂
Anyhow, here’s the recipe and how to prepare it in pictures and words; for other versions click the above links.
This is by far my favorite vinaigrette sauce. And I consciously use the word sauce rather than dressing because it is more than a salad dressing. This can be used as a dip or drizzled over poultry, seafood, or meat..and of course used as a salad dressing (it is in fact the basis to the Lebanese salad Fattoush). It is so simple to make if you have a blender…simply put everything in and give it a quick spin. And if you prefer the flavor of basil that is a good alternative to mint. A loose translation of the French word vinaigrette is “little sour wine,” or “little vinegar.” Seeing how there is no vinegar in the recipe it is technically a citronette. But whatever you call it, it certainly is delicious and takes about 30 seconds to make.
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cups virgin olive oil
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
This vegetable salad is so delicious it’s making my mouth water as I look at the picture; it’s also exceedingly easy to make. You can use whatever vegetables you prefer, or whatever seasonings you prefer. The recipe is below, but these are the basic steps.
Slice, chop, or shred whatever vegetables you like.
Put the vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle salt over them.
Slow-cook whole garlic cloves in olive oil.
Add spices to the pan and remove from the heat.
Stir the still-hot oil-garlic-spice mixture into the vegetables
Stir in lemon juice.
Here it is in pictures, a recipe is below.