Garlic-y Labneh (Labneh bi Toum)

Labneh bi Toum

Labneh: a creamy, tangy Middle Eastern yogurt strained until extra thick. It’s sort of a cross between whipped cream cheese and sour cream—but better. Lebanese people eat labneh with chips, chicken, kibbeh, fries. I shared my love of laBneh and how I used to watch my grandma making it in the kitchen, growing up on Food52. Hope you fall in love with labneh as much as I do.

PHOTO BY TY MECHAM

Total Time: 24 hrs
Makes: 1 pint

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds non-fat Greek yogurt

  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 2 tsp kosher salt

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Dried mint (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Line a large strainer with cheesecloth, and set into a large bowl.

  2. In a large bowl mix the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and salt, until fully incorporated.

  3. Place the yogurt mixture in the cheesecloth, and cover it by bringing the edges of the cloth towards the middle. Let drain in the fridge for 24 hours.

  4. After 24 hours, squeeze any excess liquid and place into an airtight container, or serve immediately, garnished with olive oil and dried mint, alongside warm pita and olives.

Arugula Pesto

Arugula Pesto

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!!

Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 pint

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups arugula

  • 1 cup basil, with stems

  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

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

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 lemons, juiced

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper, freshly cracked

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.    In a food processor, add arugula, basil, nutritional yeast, 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. 

Garlic & Thyme Roasted Potatoes with Brown Pearl Onions

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GARLIC & THYME ROASTED POTATOES WITH BROWN PEARL ONIONS

Potatoes are my favorite vegetable, and this is my go-to Mediterranean way to prepare them. They are fantastic side dishes along roasted chicken, branzino, and even lamb.

 Total Time: 30-35 minutes
Serves: 4 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs mini potatoes, cut in half

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 6-7 sprigs of thyme

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

  • 4 tbsp EVOO

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 bag of frozen pearl onions

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Set your oven to 425F.

  2. Mix cut-up potatoes, garlic, thyme, juiced and zested lemon and EVOO in a bowl, and throw them on a parchment-covered sheet tray. Season them with salt and pepper.

  3. Bake them in the oven for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are golden brown.

  4. While the potatoes are in the oven, melt the butter on a pan over medium heat and sauté the pearl onions until the outside gets brown for around 15 minutes.

  5. Once the potatoes are done, combine them with pearl onions.

  6. Enjoy!

Moroccan Couscous

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MOROCCAN COUSCOUS

An easy and healthy side that goes with any chicken, fish, or lamb dish! It’s an alternative to rice and will spice up your dish.  

Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 people
Yield: 4-5 cups 

INGREDIENTS

·     3 tbsp EVOO

·     1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

·     ½ cup shallot, peeled & chopped

·     2 cups couscous

·     1 tbsp turmeric

·     3 cups water, or chicken stock

·     ½ cup raw pistachio, crushed

·     3 tbsp mint, chiffonade

·     salt, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1.     Heat olive oil, in a medium saucepan over medium heat

2.     Add chopped shallot, cook for 1 minute then add garlic.

3.     Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until translucent.

4.     Add couscous, turmeric and salt, stir until the couscous is a bright yellow color.

5.     Add water or stock, cook with lid on, for 15 minutes or until the couscous has absorbed all the water.

6.     Stir in the pistachio, taste for seasoning.

7.     Serve the couscous in a bowl, finish with a drizzle of EVOO, squeeze of lemon, and fresh mint!

8.     Enjoy!

Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Dressing

Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Dressing

You know I love a good challenge - well this January one of my clients asked me to cater everything under the whole 30 diet. I was excited to take on the challenge and be able to basically protein and vegetables but with enough flavors to satisfy the palate. This is how this recipe came about. Cauliflowers steaks - it saves time by using the whole cauliflower, and has zero food waste. The lemon, tahini, pomegranate molasses, and nuts give the cauliflower the kick, sweetness, and crunch it needs. What’s beautiful about this dish is that it can be served as an appetizer or main entrée. Here’s to eating more veggies!

Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 heads of cauliflower

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 1 tsp coriander

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tbsp EVOO to drizzle

  • 1 cup tahini

  • 3 lemons

  • 1 cup water

  • pomegranate molasses, to garnish

  • mixed nuts, to garnish

  • parsley, to garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Chop off the stem and greens from the cauliflower. Slice the cauliflower vertically to form 4-5 large steaks.

  2. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Drizzle EVOO, and place the cauliflower steaks on top of the EVOO.

  3. In a small bowl, mix the coriander, cumin, and salt together. Season the cauliflower steaks with the spices, and drizzle olive oil on the cauliflower.

  4. Bake them in the oven for 13-15 minutes, or until they are golden.

  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, pour the tahini and squeeze 2 lemons on top. Whisk together. At this point, tahini will be thick and lumpy, and this is the consistency you want.

  6. Start adding the water little by little until fully incorporated. The tahini sauce should be silky smooth.

  7. Once the cauliflower steaks are ready, place them on a platter. Squeeze the remaining lemon and drizzle with tahini sauce and pomegranate molasses. Top off with toasted mixed nuts and chopped parsley.

Mediterranean Orzo

Mediterranean Orzo

My clients rave about this orzo salad! It's the perfect appetizer or a side dish. The saltiness of the capers and olives is the secret to this dish. This salad will bring colors and flavors to your table. Have fun with this salad! You can add herbs, cheese, or different seasonings like paprika, black peppers, and even red pepper flakes. It goes perfectly with grilled chicken or any flaky fish. 

Photos by Lauren Zaser

Serves: 4 - 6 people  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb orzo

  • 1 bunch asparagus

  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced

  • 3 tbsp capers

  • 1 pint cherry tomato

  • 3 lemons, juiced

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup pistachio, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

  2. Clean and chop asparagus into thirds.

  3. Drop the orzo and cook for 7 minutes, then add chopped asparagus and cook for additional 2 minutes.

  4. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

  5. Drain the orzo and asparagus. Let them cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

  6. Combine cooled orzo, asparagus, olives, capers, and cherry tomatoes.

  7. Toss with lemon juice, reserved pasta water, and olive oil until well combined.

  8. Garnish with chopped pistachio.

  9. ENJOYYY!

Zucchini Fetteh a Collaboration with Seed + Mill

Zucchini Fetteh

A traditional Lebanese vegetarian meal taken to the next level!! With extra spices, crunch, and texture this is the perfect side or main dish. Marrying za’atar and tahini to bring you the finest Middle Eastern flavors.

Photos by Seed + Mill

Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 3-4 people

Ingredients:

  • 4 green zucchini, cut into 2-3in’ slices

  • 1 cup tahini

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt

  • 1-2 Lebanese/Syrian pita bread, thinly sliced

  • 2 tbsp za’atar

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Salt + Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Pita Chips:

1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
2. In a small bowl toss the pita bread with salt and olive oil.
3. Place the seasoned pita chips, on a parchment lined sheet tray, and bake for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy.

Zucchini:

1. Heat your grill pan, on high.
2. In a large bowl toss the zucchini with salt and olive oil.
3. When your pan is smoking hot, grill the zucchini for 2 minutes on each side, and let rest.

Sauce:

1. To make the tahini sauce (tarator) start by whisking the lemon juice into the tahini. At this point the tahini will become thick and lumpy. This is the consistency you want.
2. Start adding the water little by little – until fully incorporated. The tahini sauce should become silky smooth.
3. In a separate bowl mix 1 cup of tahini sauce and 1 cup of Greek yogurt with salt to flavor.

Serving:

1. In your serving platter, start off by lining the zucchini into a layer, then topping it with the tahini yogurt sauce, another layer of zucchini, another layer of sauce, and finishing off with the final layer of zucchini.
2. Top off with crunchy pita chips.
3. In a small bowl mix the za’atar with 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and drizzle all around the plate.
4. There you have it a delicious fetteh!

P.S. you can make this with any of your favorite vegetables. 

Minted Tahini Eggplant

Minted Tahini Eggplant!

I can't lie, when I received Plenty - the cookbook by the infamous Yotam Ottolenghi, all I could do was stare at the cover. The longer I stared at it, the more I fell in love! A few weeks later I decided to take a spin on that cover photo. I made one of grandmother's favorite side dishes - Tahini eggplant! As a young boy growing up in Lebanon - eggplant was at every meal. This is my take on a modern healthy lebanese eggplant dish! This could be a main dish, or  a side dish - whatever you prefer :)

 Photos by Jessica Marx

Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4 people

Eggplant:

  • 2 large eggplants, washed

  • 3 tbsp EVOO

  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

  • 1 tbsp ground cumin

  • Salt + black pepper

Garnish:

  • 6-7 parsley leaves

  • 6-7 mint leaves

  • 1 pomegranate, seeded

Sauce:

  • 1 cup greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup tahini

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp evoo

  • Salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1.    Preheat oven, or grill to 450F.

2.   Slice the eggplant into thirds, lengthways. Make four small parallel cuts, throughout the heart of the eggplant.

3.    Line a sheet tray with parchment paper, and drizzle with olive oil. place eggplants, cut-side up. Sprinkle with the rest of the olive oil, thyme, rosemary, cumin, salt and pepper. 

4.     Bake for 45 minutes, until brown, soft and tender.

5.    While the eggplants are baking mix greek yogurt, tahini, minced garlic, lemon juice, oil, and salt. Mix until combined, and smooth.

6.   Serve eggplant, with plenty of tahini yogurt. Sprinkle with salt, pomegranate seeds, mint, and parsley.

7.   Sahtein!