Archive for the ‘Mezza Dishes & Appetizers’ category

Tabbouleh – The Real Deal

January 18th, 2010 Leave a reply »
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Tabbouleh (also spelled tabouleh or tabouli) is the emblematic Mezza dish of Lebanon. The art of making tabbouleh lies in the way one cuts the parsley: it must be carefully sliced to produce very thin slivers. At Lebanese restaurants, tabbouleh is often served with lettuce or cabbage leaves as this is how it’s most often eaten (and with pita bread).

Contrary to popular belief, tabbouleh is NOT made out of couscous. What looks like couscous in tabbouleh is actually a different type of wheat called burghul. When you order tabbouleh at a non-Middle Eastern restaurant (mainly in Europe such as in Greece, and France), you will often be served couscous salad. You can think of authentic tabbouleh as 75% parsley, 23% onion & tomatoes and 2% burghul.

Estimated time: 40min (herbs cut by hand) or 20min (using a food processor)
Servings: 4

Ingredients: 4 cups of finely chopped Italian/flat parsley (about 2 bushes), 2 big tomatoes, 1 large onion, 2 tablespoons of burghul (No. 2), 2 lemons, 6 tablespoons of olive oil, 6 leaves of fresh mint finely chopped (optional), salt & black pepper to taste

Tabbouleh Ingredients

1. After washing the parsley thoroughly, slice it as thinly as possible in strips and place it in a large bowl. Check out my trick on how to chop a large amount of parsley. Some will use a food processor to cut the parsley. This may be useful if you are planning for a big party, but it will irradicate the art of tabbouleh: some of your guests won’t see the difference, but some may!
2. Dice the tomatoes and onion into small pieces and add to the parsley.
3. In a small bowl, cover the burghul with a little bit of cold water and let it soak for 5 min. Then add the burghul to the rest of the salad and disregard the leftover water. The burghul will soak up the other juices in the salad.
3. Press 2 lemons and add the lemon juice as well as the olive oil to the salad.
4. Finally add salt and black pepper to taste, mix well and eat with pita bread or lettuce.

… and voila!

Tabbouleh

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

Fava Bean Salad – Foul Medames

January 9th, 2010 Leave a reply »
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Ok, so back to blogging and back to Lebanese food!

In Lebanon, Foul Medames (aka. fava & garbanzo bean salad) is often eaten for brunch with pita bread. Although I have never been a fan of bean salads in general, I could eat this one every day. Why? Unlike other bean salads, this one is very juicy leaving your mouth wanting more with every bite!
Estimated time: 20min
Servings: 4

Ingredients: 1 can of garbanzo beans (about 400g), 1 can of fava beans (about 400-500g), 1 large onion, 1 cup of chopped Italian/flat parsley (about ½ bushel), 3 big tomatoes, 3 lemons, olive oil, salt to taste

Foul Salad Ingredients
1. Place 1 can of prepared garbanzo beans and 1 can of fava beans in a pan. Add water to cover the beans. Bring to boil and cook for 10min. Then drain and let the beans cool to room temperature. You can find garbanzo & fava beans (also called broad beans) at most supermarkets.
2. Chop the Italian/flat parsley, 3 tomatoes and 1 onion into small small pieces. To chop parsley, check out my trick.
3. Combine the beans, parsley, tomatoes and onion in a bowl. Press 3 lemons and add the juice to the mixture. Then sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil to taste – I tend to be very generous with olive oil and may add up to ½ cup.
4. Finally add salt to taste, mix well and eat with pita bread or lettuce.

… and voila!

Foul Salad

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

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

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

The Secret of Hummus

September 27th, 2009 Leave a reply »
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Hummus (also spelled humus, hommus, hummos, hummous) is a basic dish in Lebanese Mezza. You will most likely be served hummus as an appetizer at every local restaurant you go to in Lebanon. And it comes with all different toppings: grilled pine nuts, olives, roasted garlic. But there are ingredients to this terrific dish and here they are.
Estimated time: 20min
Servings: 4

Hummus

Ingredients: 1 can of garbanzo beans (about 400g), 5 to 6 tablespoons of tahini (aka. sesame seed paste), 1/2 lemon, 2 garlic cloves, olive oil, salt

If you do not have access to fresh, uncooked chickpeas (aka. garbanzo beans), which is probably your case unless you live in the Middle East:
1. Place 1 can of prepared garbanzo beans in a pan. Add water to cover the beans. Bring to boil. You can find garbanzo bean cans at most supermarkets
2. Boil the beans for 10-15 minutes until soft. Drain the beans but keep the water used to cook them (you will need about 1/4 cup of water)
3. Transfer the beans into a food processor. Then add salt, 2 garlic cloves chopped into small pieces, and the ¼ cup of water used to cook the beans. Whizz the mixture into a smooth purée.
4. Press 1/2 lemon and add the juice to the mixture
5. Add 5 to 6 tablespoons of tahini and process the mixture again

Taste – if the mixture is too thick, add a little bit of water or lemon juice. If the mixture is too liquid, add a little bit of tahini, but do not worry: putting the hummus in the fridge will thicken it. **What to look for when you taste?** Make sure you taste the tahini, lemon juice & salt. The hummus shouldn’t be bland.

6. Transfer the hummus into a small plate or shallow bowl.

Garnish (any of the following):
- paprika
- cumin
- pine nuts (grilled/fried in a little bit of vegetable oil)
- garbanzo beans – if you remembered to keep some on the side
- chopped  olives
- garlic (fried in a little bit of vegetable oil)
- chopped sun dried tomatoes
- sliced radish

The Finale: drizzle over a generous amount of olive oil and eat with Arabic/pita bread.

Also check out these Nutritional Facts about Humus