From herbaceous tabbouleh to warming lamb-stuffed eggplant simmered in tomato sauce, these comforting Lebanese recipes make use of the region’s warm spices and brilliant olive oil.
See our favorite Lebanese olive oils »
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Eggplants are stuffed with a mixture of spiced lamb and rice, then simmered in tomato sauce in a rustic, cinnamon-scented dish from Lebanese author Fouad Kassab’s mother, Isabelle. During the autumn olive harvest, she prepares it with new-season olive oil from the family’s groves. Use smaller-sized eggplants, such as Japanese or fairy-tale eggplants, for this dish. (If you can’t find these varieties, zucchini may be substituted for the eggplant.)
Za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mix of wild thyme, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds, tops chewy flatbread in this iconic Lebanese snack.
Finely chopped fresh parsley and mint are bathed in fruity extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice in this classic Middle Eastern appetizer.
Kefta bil Sayniyeh (Spiced Lamb Patties with Tomato and Onion)
Lebanese seven-spice powder—a mix of allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, and nutmeg known as baharat—flavors the lamb patties as well as the tomatoes in a richly spiced dish from Lebanese author Fouad Kassab’s mother, Isabelle. She uses fragrant oil from the family’s olive groves; see
Green Gold for our favorite Lebanese olive oils available in the U.S.
See the recipe for Kefta bil Sayniyeh (Spiced Lamb Patties with Tomato and Onion) »
Lebanon has an ancient tradition of producing high-quality olive oil, which is used to braise vegetables in a number of traditional dishes. One of the most popular is
loubieh b zeit, literally “green beans in oil,” a traditional Lebanese mezze in which romano beans are braised until tender with tomatoes in olive oil. It’s traditionally served at room temperature, but can also be enjoyed warm, as a side dish. Green beans or fava beans can be substituted for the Romano beans. Get the recipe for Loubieh bil Zeit (Romano Beans with Tomatoes) »
Across the Levant, eggplants are grilled and mashed to make baba ghannouj, a silky, delicious dip for flatbreads and vegetables.
Get the recipe for Mashed Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghannouj) »
Ma’amoul bil Tamer (Lebanese Date Shortbread)
These Lebanese shortbread cookies feature a buttery pastry scented with rose and orange blossom waters wrapped around a cinnamon and nutmeg-spiced date filling. Though they’re easy to shape by hand, it’s worth seeking out a traditional
to make them. The beautiful long-handled tools, known as ma’amoul mold taabehs, are intricately carved with designs that correspond to their fillings, with distinct patterns for ma’amoul filled with dates, pistachio, or walnut.
See the recipe for Ma’amoul bil Tamer »