Riz a Jej (Lebanese Chicken & Rice)

Riz a Jej, Lebanese Chicken & Rice

This traditional Lebanese chicken and rice dish is one of my favorites. Flavorful, seasoned rice, topped with juicy chicken and studded with nuts—it is, for me, the purest definition of comfort food. I have so many memories around this dish with my grandmother, so I wrote a sweet story around this for Food52. Hope you all get to taste my grandmother’s simple Lebanese chicken and rice dish.


Total Time: 1 hour
Makes: 4-6 people


  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 1 tbsp EVOO

  • 1 cup onion, chopped

  • 2 lbs ground beef or lamb

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice

  • 2 tbsp salt

  • 4 tbsp bahārāt (seven-pepper spice)

  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

  • 5 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup cashews

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup silvered almonds

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

  • 1/4 cup pistachios


  1. MAKE RICE: In a large pot, add the butter, olive oil, and onion and cook for 5 minutes until the onion softens. Make sure the onions don’t brown. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes until the meat starts to brown. Add the rice, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the bahārāt to the pot, and cook for 2 minutes as you're stirring and coating the rice with the spices. Add 4 cups of chicken stock and bay leaves to the pot and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked.

  2. MAKE CHICKEN: In a medium-sized pot, add shredded chicken and remaining 2 tbsp bahārāt. Mix well until fully seasoned. Add remaining 1 cup of chicken stock to the mixture and bring it to a gentle simmer on a low heat. This process will keep the chicken moist and flavorful.

  3. TOAST NUTS: Set the oven at the 450°F. In separate batches, toast each nut in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly golden. Once toasted, mix all the nuts together. Set aside.

  4. ASSEMBLE: To assemble, place the rice mixture on a serving platter and cover with shredded chicken. Garnish with toasted nuts.

Za'atar Crusted Chicken

Za’atar Crusted Chicken

People are always asking me different ways to use my favorite seasoning of all time — za’atar. I have to say the quickest and the most efficient way of adding a ton of flavor to protein is making this za’atar marinade. Unlike other marinades that might require some time, this one just needs a good rub on your choice of protein, and it’s good to go!

I added extra sesame seeds for its texture, and you can use this marinade on anything you would like from tofu to shrimp. It is a perfect, simple dinner that will be your go-to recipe.

Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people


  • 1/4 cup za’atar

  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 1 lemon zested and juiced

  • 3 tbsp EVOO

  • 2-3 lbs of chicken thighs, boneless, skinless


  1. In a medium sized bowl, mix all the ingredients besides chicken thighs until well incorporated

  2. Add chicken thighs and marinate for 15-20 minutes

  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

  4. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and spread the chicken on there. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until tender but still juicy.

  5. Garnish with scallions and fresh mint.

Chicken & Fig Tagine

Chicken & Fig Tagine

The perfect winter stew, made to satisfy everyone. Full of different flavors and spices it opens up the smell of the house. It can be made in a crockpot and forgotten about, or cooked for 1-2 hours with a result of tender chicken, and vegetable goodness. Tagine has a long history in Moroccan cuisine, and here I have simplified it for the average cook without stripping any flavors away.

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people


  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 5 tbsp tagine spices

  • 2 tbsp salt (or more to taste)

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 3 tbsp EVOO

  • 3 medium sized onions, peeled and large diced

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 cup raw chickpea, soaked overnight and drained

  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and large diced

  • 1 quart chicken stock

  • 2 cups warm water

  • 3 tbsp fig jam

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 lemon, juiced


  1. In a small bowl, mix flour, 2 tbsp of tagine spice, and 1 tbsp of salt. Pat dry the chicken thighs and combine them with the flour and spice mixture.

  2. In a large heavy bottom pot, melt 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of EVOO over medium heat. Once it’s hot, increase the heat and cook the chicken, for 4-5 minutes, until each side is brown. Once the chicken is all brown, set them aside.

  3. In the same pot that you cooked the chicken, cook onions and garlic with 2 tbsp of EVOO over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until the onions are translucent. Make sure to scrape the chicken bits while you are cooking onions.

  4. Add the chickpea to the pot. Cook them for 3-5 minutes. Then, add carrots, 3 tbsp of tagine spice, and 1 tbsp of salt. Cook everything together for another 6-8 minutes until vegetables are getting tender.

  5. Add the chicken stock, and bring the mixture to a simmer.

  6. In a small bowl, mix warm water with fig jam. Once the tagine is simmering, add the fig water, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves and simmer for anoter 30 minutes.

  7. After simmering, add the reserved browned chicken to the pot and cook for another 30-45 minutes.

  8. Transfer the tagine to a serving bowl and finish it with a squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

Orange Ginger Salmon

Orange Ginger Salmon

It’s a new year, and I know that y’all are trying to eat healthier. This quick and simple, but super flavorful, citrusy salmon recipe will help you eat cleaner and stay on track. It only requires a few ingredients, but when it’s paired with fresh salmon, the flavors are incredible! Serve this on a bed of lettuce, cooked grain, and even soba noodles. This can be eaten cold or warm, so it makes a fantastic leftover lunch.

Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 people


  • 4 fillets of salmon

  • 2 oranges, squeezed

  • 4 scallions, sliced

  • 2-inch ginger, zested

  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds

  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds

  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame oil

  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to season


  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.

  2. Pat dry your salmon filets, and season them with salt on both sides. Place them in a shallow baking dish.

  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk orange, scallions, ginger, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, roasted sesame oil, and salt.

  4. Pour the sauce over the prepared, dry salmon fillets. Bake them in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until the salmon is opaque and soft to the touch.

  5. Garnish the salmon with some cilantro.

  6. Serve the fish with a side of quinoa, rice, cauliflower rice, or what you please. Even soba noodles would be great!

  7. Enjoy!

Sous Vide Lamb Chops with Mint Sauce

Sous Vide Lamb Chops with Mint Sauce

I love sous vide cooking! It makes my catering life so much easier. Sous vide cooking has several advantages. First, it ensures that anything you place in the water bath gets cooked evenly, which means you will NEVER get dry food. Secondly, it’s consistent. You can control and set the temperature precisely, which means you will always get the same results every single time. Lastly, you can cook things in large quantities. I can make perfect poached eggs or juicy chicken breast in a big batch without worrying about anything!

And, lamb chops are one of my favorite things to sous vide. They come out a perfect medium rare, and because they get cooked with all the aromatics, the flavors really get penetrated into the chops. After a quick sear, you have a perfect lamb chop that will be the show stopper for your upcoming dinner parties.

Total Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people



  • 2 racks of lamb

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

  • 1 tsp coriander

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided into 2 tbsp

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme

  • 4 leaves of sage

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  • 1 bunch mint

  • 1 clove of garlic

  • 2 lemons, juiced

  • 2 scallions

  • 1/4 cup, extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 ice cubes

  • salt, to taste



  1. Heat the sous vide bath to 131F for medium rare.

  2. Pat dry the lamb chops and salt all around, including the back of the lamb chops.

  3. Mix freshly cracked black pepper, coriander, and cumin and season the lamb all around the mixed spices.

  4. Place your lamb chops in an airtight bag and put 2 tbsp of butter, garlic, thyme, sage, and olive oil. Seal the bag with a plastic straw in the corner of the bag. Slowly drop the bag into the water, letting the straw do its job taking any excess air in the bag out. Slowly take out the straw as you complete the seal of the bag. The lamb chops should be submerged in the sous vide water bath.

  5. Cook the lamb chops in the sous vide bath for 3 hours.

  6. Once done cooking, take the lamb chops out of the bag. Pat them dry and discard the aromatics.

  7. On a large skillet, preferably cast iron, heat up the rest of butter on high heat. Make sure the butter doesn’t burn.

  8. Sear the whole lamb chop on each side for 1 minute. It should take about 3-4 minutes total. Let it rest at least for 5 minutes before slicing.

  9. Slice and serve the chops with mint sauce (optional).


  1. Put mint, garlic, lemon juice, scallions, extra virgin olive oil, and ice cubes to a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth.

  2. Season with salt and serve it with the lamb chops.

Papillote Branzino

Papillote Branzino

Branzino is the Mediterranean sea bass. I grew up eating lots of charcoal-grilled Branzino in Lebanon, but now that I live in Brooklyn without a grill, I found a way to cook this salty fish. 

When I was in college, I learned this "papillote" method, cooking in parchment envelops. It's an easy way to cook fish without drying it out. Keeping the moisture within the papillote locks in all the Mediterranean flavors of Branzino. You can cook any fish using this foolproof method.

Make this impressive dish with minimal effort for your next dinner party!

Photos by Lauren Zaser

Serves: 4 - 6 people


  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 fennel head

  • 6 fillets branzino

  • 3 tbsp capers

  • 1/4 cup olives, sliced

  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 lemon, sliced

  • 1/4 cup white wine

  • salt & pepper


  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.

  2. Slice fennel on a mandoline. If you don't have a mandoline, thinly slice the fennel.

  3. Cut out a parchment paper that is 6 inches larger than your sheet tray.

  4. Line the sheet tray with the parchment, and drizzle with olive oil.

  5. Scatter sliced fennel and salt.

  6. Place the filleted branzino on top of the fennel and season it with salt and pepper, followed by capers, olives, garlic, and thyme leaves.

  7. Season the fish with salt and pepper.

  8. Layer the lemon across the fish.

  9. Pour the white wine around the fish.

  10. Cover the fish with a parchment paper, and fold the ends of parchment papers tightly to make an envelope.

  11. Place the sheet tray in the preheated oven, and cook it for 14 - 16 minutes.

  12. Remove the sheet tray from the oven, and let it sit for 1 minute before removing the top parchment paper.

  13. ENJOYY!!

Coconut Curry Seafood Stew

Coconut Curry Seafood Stew

This is not a traditional lebanese dish by any means - but it is a favorite for winter dinner ideas. It's warming, light, and full of flavor. Starting off with a green curry, coconut milk base then adding some of my favorite seafood and letting the flavors grow. I paired it with a side of sticky coconut rice for that intense coconut kick, and garlicky bok choy! This is a healthy alternative to any beef stew you were thinking of making and takes a quarter of the time. Enjoy!!

comment below and let me know if you try it out!

Photos by Jessica Marx

Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-5 people

Coconut Curry Seafood Stew:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 onion, peeled and diced

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and zested

  • 2 inches ginger, peeled and zested

  • 2 tbsp green curry paste

  • 2 cans coconut milk

  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned and peeled

  • 2-3 lb mussels, cleaned and bearded

  • Salt to taste

  • Cilantro to garnish

Coconut Sticky Rice:

  • 2 cups white long grain rice

  • 4 cups coconut milk

  • salt to taste

Garlicky Bok Choy

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

  • 4-5 bok choy, cleaned and sliced in half

  • 2 tbsp ponzu, or soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar


Coconut Curry Seafood Stew:

1.    In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.

2.   Add diced onions, cook for 2-3 minutes then add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the onions have are translucent. 

3.   Add curry paste, and mix together until the onions start incorporating the green curry - about 2 minutes. 

4.   Whisk the coconut milk into the onion mixture until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

5.    When the broth comes to a boil, add the shrimp and mussels. Cover and let it cook for 5-6 minutes or until all the mussels have popped open and the shrimp are cooked through. 

6.     Garnish with cilantro - Enjoy!

P.S. you can make this spicy by adding your favorite chili, hot sauce, cayenne, or hot pepper flakes. 

Coconut Sticky Rice:

1.    In a medium size pot, combine the coconut milk and rice over medium-high heat. 

2.    Season with salt, and let it come to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and let it cook for 18-22 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. 

3.    When ready, fluff the rice with a fork - and serve.

Garlicky Bok Choy:

1.    In a large sautée pan, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. 

2.   Add sliced garlic, sautée until you can smell the aromas of the garlic - about 1 minute. Add bok choy flat side down and cook for 2 -3 minutes.

3.   Flip the bok choy, add ponzu or soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Cook for another minute or until the liquid has evaporated.  

4.   Serve this tasty side dish with any asian inspired meal your making - you won't regret it! 

Kale Pesto Grilled Cheese

Kale Pesto Grilled Cheese

I make a bomb kale pesto, whenever my friends come over that's what they ask for. Every client of mine is always asking me to add my pesto to the menu somehow. After coming up with some fun Hors D'oeuvres using the kale pesto I decided to take it simple - so I made this for dinner and it was too good I couldn't resist posting it! I hope this becomes your go to grilled cheese. The best part about the pesto is that you can make it - freeze it - use it whenever!!

Photos by Eric Helgas

Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 3-4 people

Kale Pesto:

  • 2 cups kale, washed

  • 1 cup basil, with stems

  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, or pumpkin seeds (if allergic)

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper, freshly cracked

Grilled Cheese:

  • 8 slices, of your favorite bread

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • Kale pesto

  • 4 slices cheddar

  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago

  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan


Kale Pesto:

1.    In a food processor, add kale, basil, cheese, nut, and garlic clove. Pulse until well combined. 

2.   Add lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Pulse while drizzling the extra virgin olive oil. Pulse for one additional minute until all combined. 

3.   Taste and adjust seasoning. 

Grilled Cheese:

1.    Heat a large cast-iron skillet heat up, on high heat.

2.    Meanwhile spread butter on one side of each slice of bread, and 1-2 tbsp of kale pesto on the other side. 

3.    Place 4 slices, butter side down in the skillet. Start layering each cheese on top of the four slices of bread. Starting with the cheddar, asiago, and finishing with the parmesan. 

4.   Top the cheese off, with a slice of bread, pesto side facing down. 

5.   Cook the grilled each for 4 minutes on each side, until the bread is golden brown, crunchy, and all the cheese has melted. 

Enjoy this with a side of soup, or on it's own!