Archive for October, 2009

Fattoush – Crispy Bread Salad

October 28th, 2009 Leave a reply »
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Fattoush (aka. toasted bread salad, also spelled fattush) is my favorite Lebanese salad: simple to make and simply delicious. This salad is often eaten with other Mezza dishes or as a light lunch. There are several variations to the ingredients in this salad, but I will focus on my favorite.
Estimated time: 20min
Servings: 4

Fattoush

Ingredients:
Vegetables: 2 roman (cos) lettuce, 2 cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, (variations include: 1 red or green pepper, 1 large carrot, 5 radishes)
Necessities: 1 garlic clove, ¼ cup of minced Italian (flat) parsley, 8-10 leaves of fresh mint, 3 green onions
Bread & Vinaigrette: 1 large arabic/pita bread, 1-2 tbsp of sumac, ½ lemon, 3-4 tbsp of olive oil, salt to taste

1. Cut the vegetables into bite sizes and toss them into a large bowl. Mince the garlic, parsley, mint, and green onions. Add these to the bowl and mix well.

2. Lemon Vinaigrette: Combine the sumac, juice from ½ of a lemon, olive oil and salt in a jar, cover tightly, and shake to blend.

3. Toasting the bread: split 1 loaf of arabic/pita bread into two circular halves by separating the top and bottom of the “pocket”, place both halves in the oven at 400F. After 15min, the bread should be brown and crispy. Break the bread into small pieces and sprinkle them on top of the salad.

4. Before serving, add the lemon vinaigrette and voila!

In Lebanon, many like to fry the bread in vegetable oil instead of toasting it in the oven. I find toasting a healthier alternative, but frying the bread definitely gives a different taste to your Fattoush. To make the toasted bread even tastier, sprinkle a few drops of olive oil on the bread before placing it in the oven. You will see the difference.

** Feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions about the ingredients and recipes

Ingredient: Tahini

October 14th, 2009 Leave a reply »
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    So what exactly is tahini? Can’t I just make hummus without tahini?There are many ingredients used in Middle Eastern cuisine that are not common in the Western world, one of which is tahini.

    Tahini

    Hummus without tahini is like guacamole without sour cream. Tahini gives hummus its distinctive nutty flavor as well as silky smooth texture. You can use tahini to make various dips such as hummus and babaghanouj as well as many sauces to accompany asparagus, fish, chicken, lamb and more.

    Tahini (aka. sesame seed paste) has an oily, creamy texture. You can find it in Middle Eastern grocery stores.

    Essentials: make sure you buy 100% ground sesame. Cheaper brands may contain peanut and peanut butter, so make sure you buy quality sesame seed tahini. While you are at the grocery store, make sure you also get Arabic/pita bread as well as extra virgin olive oil.

    Tahini

My Sugar Daddy – Babaghanouj

October 5th, 2009 Leave a reply »
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Babaghanouj (in Arabic: baba = “daddy” ghanouj = “the one who spoils”, also spelled baba ghanouj, baba ghanoush, baba ghannoug) is a sibling of Hummus in the Mezza Family: they often come together. But this time, babaghanouj is most commonly served with one topping, fresh mint.
Estimated time: 30-40min
Servings: 4

Lebanese Seven Spices

Ingredients: 2 large dark-purple eggplants (the darker the color, the better), 4 to 5 tablespoons or 50g of tahini (aka. sesame seed paste), ½ lemon, 1 garlic clove, olive oil, salt, ½ teaspoon of cumin (optional)

 

1. Poke holes in the 2 eggplants with a fork
2. Place the eggplants on the grill, in the oven at 400F, or over a gas flame. After 15min, one side should be well cooked and the flesh very tender. Turn over the eggplants and let them grill on all sides for 10min. After 30min, if the eggplants are not soft enough, keep on heating them until the skin is easy to peel off
3. Peel the eggplants under a cold tap and discard the skin. Remove the heads and cut them in half. Allow the eggplants to cool to room temperature
4. Then slice each half into 5 long strings and remove all of the seeds you can find (many are hidden in the flesh)
5. Place the pieces of eggplant into a food processor with salt and 1 garlic clove chopped into small pieces. Whizz the mixture into a smooth purée
6. Press ½ lemon and add the juice to the mixture; add 4 tablespoons of tahini; and finally add ½ teaspoon of ground cumin (optional); process the mixture

Taste – If the mixture is too liquid, add a little bit of tahini, but be careful not to overdo the tahini; you only need a little to bring out the flavor of the eggplants. **What to look for when you taste?** Make sure you taste the lemon juice & eggplant. Charring the eggplants on a gas flame or charcoal grill gives the baghanouj a distinctive smoky flavor.

7.  Transfer the mixture into a small plate or shallow bowl and garnish with fresh mint (whole or chopped leaves)

 

The Finale: drizzle over olive oil and eat with Arabic/pita bread.

 

** Feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions about the recipe