I'm back! Much apologies to my readers [if I have any readers?] for my month long hiatus. A nasty virus attacked my computer and I have been without internet access for 4 long weeks. I seem to have resolved the problem all by myself, an accomplishment for which I am very proud.
Just because I haven't been blogging doesn't mean I haven't been cooking, though. I have been busy with many other things [hence the 4 weeks it took me to fix my computer], but I've managed to eek out a few gems from my kitchen, even without the motivation of future publication on the internet.
One such recipe was a jazzed up version of loubieh bi zeit, a classic Lebanese dish of tender green beans sauteed in tomatoes and olive oil.
If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, one thing you may know about me is that I am generally disgusted with bastardized versions of Arabic food. I'm no snob when it comes to coffee or wine, but I seriously turn my nose up to roasted pepper pesto aoli hummus and other abominations.
The beauty of Lebanese food lies in its simplicity. Most dishes are flavored with some combination of garlic, lemon, and salt. There is much skill involved in determining the perfect perportions of each, and there are probably as many recipes for hummus as I have cousins, but the reality is that most Arabic food is quite basic, and quite perfect the way that it is.
There is something to be said for eating food cooked the same way your grandmom's mom made it. But, admittedly, there are days when I want to cook up something really special and I bend the rules a little. The key is keeping the recipe's integrity in tact. I try to preserve the essence of the recipe, using the same spices and ingredients, just adding extras to enhance the flavor.
Loubieh bi zeit is usually very tender and stew-like. My jazzed up Loubieh was heartier, as roasting the green beans gave them a very pronounced flavor and the pumpkin seeds, a popular snack in the middle east, added some crunch. I minced the onions and tomatoes instead of chopping them, inspired by Nigella Lawson's tendency to throw every vegetable possible into the food processor. Mincing produced the desired effect, and I only had to toss the glistening mixture of tomato and onion with the green beans for a few minutes.
Loubieh Mashwey bi bizr
Roasted Loubieh with Pumpkin Seeds
2lbs green beans
2 tomatoes, minced
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds
1 onion, minced
1/4 olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and stem green beans, leaving them whole. Spread in a 9 X 13in pan so that they are one layer thin. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, then roll them around a little so that they are evenly coated. Roast for 20-25 minutes. They will be spotted with brown and a little shriveled.
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a large wok or pan in the olive oil. Once brown, add in the tomatoes and onions, and sautee until onions are translucent. Add in roasted green beans and sautee for 5 more minutes. Serve with pita bread.