Vegetarian & Lebanese Recipes

Vegetarian & Lebanese Recipes

Lebanese and Middle Eastern food is wholesome and good for you. Made with lots of fresh vegetables and whole grains, you can taste the earth's goodness in every bite. As the Lebanese people immigrated over the centuries, they brought these tasty recipes to east and west, to Europe, Latin America, the United States, and to various parts of the world. Enjoy, and Bon Apetit.

Meat Joint Soup

2 1/2 cups soup meat, cubed
3/4 cup rice or fine noodles
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup parsley, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
Several meat bones

The Lebanese housewife used to spend most of the day tending the soup kettle to make this nourishing soup for her family. Today the same soup can be cooked in an hour in the pressure cooker. Its distinctive flavor comes from the cinnamon stick added to the broth. With toasted Arab bread this makes a hearty meal.

Place meat and bones in pressure cooker with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and skim. Pour off all but 2 1/2 cups of the broth and set aside. Add cinnamon stick to broth and bones in the pressure cooker and cook under pressure for 30 minutes. Reduce pressure. Remove meat and bones. Add rice or noodles and the reserved broth to the pot and cook under pressure eight minutes. Open cooker. Season to taste. Return meat to soup and heat to boiling. Serve in soup bowls garnished with chopped parsley. For variety, add several small whole carrots, a tomato cut in half, several small summer squash and a chopped stick of celery to the broth before adding the rice or noodles.

To prepare this soup in an open kettle, bring meat and bones to boil and skim. Add salt and cinnamon stick. Boil until meat is tender and remove bones. Add rice or noodles and cook until tender. Sprinkle with parsley. Add vegetables as above if desired.

Lentil Soup

3 cups lentils
1/2 cup rice (optional)
1/2 cup samneh, or other shortening
1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Another good old fashioned soup is this one developed, of necessity, by Lebanese mountain villages when their winter diet consisted mainly of those foods which they dried in the summer and stored in earthenware jars or homespun sacks for winter eating.

Soak lentils in cold water overnight. Wash and pick over. Place in pressure cooker with water to cover them about an inch. Cook under pressure for 15 minutes. Pass the-soup through a sieve or food mill. Add water to desired consistency. Fry onions in hot fat until brown and add to soup. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt. Serve thick and hot with squares of crisp fried bread.

To prepare in open kettle: Wash lentils. Pick them over. Boil until soft. Pass through sieve or food mill. Add fried onions and salt. Add more water if necessary and simmer for 10 minutes.

To either method, add cooked rice if desired (one half cup before cooking). To enhance flavor, braise a beef or lamb bone in a small amount of fat and add to soup at beginning of cooking. Dried pea soup may be prepared in the same way but omit rice.

Meatball Soup

2 1/2 cups ground lean meat
4 Ibs. soup meat, cubed
Several soup bones
1/2 cup samneh, or other shortening
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup tomato juice, [or 1 Tsp tomato paste and half cup water]
5 cups cold water

Grind meat several times. Mix well with salt and pepper. Shape into balls the size of marbles and brown in hot fat. Bring soup bones and meat to boil with water in pressure cooker. Skim. Cook under pressure for 20 minutes. Add meat balls, rice and tomato juice. Cook under pressure for 10 minutes. Remove bones. Add parsley and cinnamon just before serving. Makes approximately 10 servings.

This is a very old recipe and here is how it was originally prepared. Pound meat well in a stone mortar with a strong wooden mallet—called the jorn and modaqqa—with salt and pepper until meat becomes smooth and pasty. Shape into small balls and brown in hot fat. Brown soup bones in fat. Add tomato juice and seasonings. Simmer until meat balls are done. Add one half cup rice and cook until tender.Add parsley and simmer another three minutes. Add salt to taste.

Yoghurt Soup (Turkish)


1/2 cup pearl barley
2 large onions, chopped
1 pint yoghurt or laban
3 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1 tsp. salt
White pepper

Put the barley to soak the night before. Drain well and boil until tender in the chicken broth. Meanwhile cook onion in butter until soft. Combine with barley and broth. Add mint, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for one hour. Five minutes before serving time add well beaten yoghurt. Serve in heated bowls.

Turkish Beet Soup

6 medium sized beets
4 cups water
1 cup stewed tomatoes
2 small onions
1/2 Ib. beef stew meat
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 eggs
Salt and pepper

Peel beets and cut into slivers with sharp knife or vegetable grater. Strain tomatoes, forcing pulp but not seeds through the strainer. Add water, chopped onion and cubed meat. Cook gently half an hour. Add lemon juice and salt. Taste for seasoning and simmer another 30 minutes. Pour hot borsch slowly over well beaten eggs and serve at once.

Lentil Soup with Beans and Rice

1 cup lentils
1 cup hummus (chick peas}
1/2 cup dried black beans
1 cup rice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup minced onions
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
5 cups water

This soup is a winter mainstay and a famous old Lebanese dish.

Soak beans, lentils and chick peas together overnight. Wash and pick over. Cook with the water and salt under pressure for 15 minutes. Boil rice separately and add to the lentil-bean mixture when it is done. Add onions which have been fried in oil until slightly browned. Simmer uncovered until of desired consistency and serve hot in soup plates. Approximately 10 servings.

To prepare in an open kettle: Soak all beans, but not lentils, overnight. Pick over and wash. Cook beans and lentils together in large kettle with plenty of water. When tender, add rice and continue simmering until rice is tender. Finally, add onions which have been fried in oil, salt, and caraway if desired. Simmer a few minutes more.

Rice in Fish Broth

1 large fish (weighing about 2 Ibs.}
1 cup olive oil
2 cups uncooked rice
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
Lemon juice

This flavorful dish is an artful combination of rice and fresh fish.

Clean fish, sprinkle with salt and refrigerate for several hours. Fry fish in olive oil until well cooked. Remove the fish and fry the chopped onions in the same oil well browned. Bone the fried fish, reserving the cooked fillets. Add the head, bones and skin to the fried onions and cook with four cups of water in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes, or for a longer time in an open pan. Strain the broth, discarding solids and reserving the fish broth. Boil the rice (which has been soaked in hot water for 30 minutes) in the fish broth using 1 1/4 cups of broth for each cup of rice. Adjust salt. Simmer the rice on a low fire so that most of the broth will be absorbed. Meanwhile, butter a one-quart mold and arrange sauteed, blanched almonds and pine nuts in it. Spoon cooked rice into the mold. Unmold onto a serving platter. Garnish with large pieces of the fried fish. Serve lukewarm or cold. Serves 6 persons.

Some of the broth may be flavored with a few drops of lemon and served on the side as a sauce for this dish. Crisp radishes are a splendid accompaniment.

Lentils with Chard and Lemon

1 1/2 cups lentils
2 1/2 Ibs. Swiss chard leaves
3/4 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch green kizbara (coriander), or 1 stalk celery
5 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup lemon juice (or to taste)
1 tsp. flour

Wash lentils well and leave to drain overnight. Wash again in morning and pick over. Cook with water to cover in pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Open cooker. Add chard leaves which have been chopped with a few stems and one cup water. Cook under pressure another 8 minutes. Meanwhile fry onions in olive oil. Crush garlic with salt and add to fried onions. Wash and chop kizbara or celery. Add with the onions to the chard and lentil mixture. Stir. Add lemon juice mixed with one teaspoon flour to thicken the sauce. Let simmer until it is like thick soup. Add seasonings. Serve hot. Serves 6.

Save chard stems and boil them to serve as a salad with taheeni (sesame oil).

To cook in open kettle: Boil washed lentils until tender, adding hot water as necessary. Combine lentils with chard, fried onions and garlic mixture. Finish as above.

Fish Dishes

Fried Fish

The Mediterranean waters bordering Lebanon yield many succulent fish. Of these, the Lebanese prefer one called the Sultan Ibrahim which they usually pan-fry and serve piping hot with a sauce. Fish sauces include mayonnaise, taratour bi taheeni (a sesame flavored sauce), or a mixture of pine nuts crushed well together with lemon juice, garlic and salt. Lemon wedges always accompany fish, no matter what other sauce is served.

Clean and scale the fish. Leave the head, but remove the eyes. Sprinkle inside and out with salt. Place the salted fish in the refrigerator for several hours. Let it return to room temperature before cooking. Dredge fish in flour. Fry in half inch olive oil until browned, shaking pan gently during cooking to prevent sticking. Turn fish once. Fry pieces of Arabic bread in the same oil and use them to garnish the fish, along with radishes and green onions.

Fish is often served with bits of fried vegetables such as squash, eggplant or cauliflower. It also combines well with hummus bi taheeni and baba ghannouj.

Lebanese Broiled Fish

Beautifully decorated whole baked fish is a favorite party dish.

Clean a large, nicely formed fish well, leaving on the head but removing the eyes. Salt and chill, as in previous recipe. Sprinkle it with olive oil and rub it well into the flesh. Wrap the fish completely in unglazed paper. Bake in a hot oven until the flesh is white. Remove paper and transfer to serving platter. Garnish lavishly with green pickles cut in fan shapes, mayonaise, sliced green and black olives, parsley, and bits of pimento. Accompany with bowls of taratour sauce or mayonnaise and slices of lemon.

Fish Stew

1 fish weighing about 2 Ibs.
1 cup sliced onions
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp. saffron
1 tsp. salt

Clean and salt fish several hours ahead of time. Cook fish lightly in olive oil. Remove and place in saucepan. Fry onions in same oil until browned. Drain onions well to remove excess oil. Mix the fried onions, salt, saffron and lemon juice. Add them to the fish in the saucepan with enough water to cover. Simmer gently until the fish is very tender. Lift out the fish and remove the flesh from the bones. Taste the sauce and add seasonings. Lay the fish fillets on a platter and pour the sauce over them. Serve cold, accompanied by Riz Bi Samak.

Fish Cooked in Sesame Sauce

1 fish weighing about 2 Ibs.
1 1/2 cups taheeni (sesame oil)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/4 tsp. salt

Clean and salt fish. Refrigerate for several hours. Allow it to return to room temperature, sprinkle with olive oil and bake in moderate oven until flesh seems to flake apart easily under a fork. Meanwhile fry onions in olive oil until yellow. Beat lemon juice and water slowly into the taheeni, adding more lemon juice to taste if necessary. The taheeni sauce will become very creamy. Mix onions into sauce, pour over the baked fish and return it to the oven. Bake about 20 minutes in moderate oven. Some of the sauce will be absorbed into the fish and the onions will be very well cooked. Serve this dish cold.

Fish Stew with Red Pepper

1 medium sized fish
1 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh kizbara (coriander)
1/4 tsp. red pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup lemon juice

Clean and salt fish several hours before serving time. Cut it into pieces. Fry fish gently in oil for five minutes. Separate flesh from the bones, head and skin. Set the fillets aside and boil the remainder in the water for 30 minutes. Drain off the broth and reserve. Fry chopped onions and garlic in the oil in which the fish was fried. Drain off excess oil. To the onions add the fish broth, the pieces of fried fish, salt, pepper, kizbara and cumin. Simmer this mixture half an hour. Add lemon juice. Add salt and more lemon juice according to taste. Serve this dish cold.

Swordfish on a Skewer (Turkish)

Cube the fish and marinate in olive oil seasoned with vinegar, salt and pepper. Place on skewer alternately with a slice of onion, a slice of tomato and a bay leaf. Grill over charcoal, turning frequently. Slide cooked fish from skewer onto serving plate and sprinkle with lemon juice.

Rice for Fish

2 cups uncooked rice
3/4 cup oil
1 cup sliced onions
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 tsp. saffron
1 tsp. salt

Soak rice in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain. Heat oil which may be fresh olive oil or the oil remaining after preparing Yakhnit el Samak. Fry pine nuts in oil until slightly browned. Remove nuts. Add rice to oil along with salt and stir it thoroughly. Add 2 1/2 cups water and saffron. Simmer rice gently, covered, on low fire until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Turn rice onto a platter. Sprinkle with fried onions and pine kernels and serve it as the accompaniment to Yakhnit el Samak. The rice may be garnished with pieces of any fried fish and served with a salad of cabbage, lettuce or radishes.

Stuffed Mussels (Turkish)

15 large mussels
1/2 cup raw rice
2 large yellow onions
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
2 Tbsp. currants
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt

As an hors-d'oeuvre, allow three or four of these delicious morsels for each person.

Prepare mussels by scraping shells thoroughly and washing. Pry shells open without disturbing the hinge. Clean by removing the black part of the mussel and the beard. Rinse well. Soak in cold water while preparing stuffing. Fry onions in olive oil until soft. Add rice. Cook together gently, covered, for 19 minutes. Add boiling water and rest of ingredients. Continue cooking, covered, until liquid is absorbed. When cool, stuff each mussel with the rice mixture and tie shut with string. Place the mussels in layers in a saucepan, cover with boiling water and place a plate or small lid immediately on top of the mussels to hold them securely in place while they are cooking. Put a lid on the saucepan. Cook over a very low fire for half an hour. Drain, but leave mussels undisturbed to cool. Remove strings. Serve well chilled, with lemon juice.

More Authentic Lebanese Recipes - several pages. Click here for Page 1 |  Pg 2 |  Pg 3 |  Pg 4 |  Pg 5 |  Pg 6 |  Pg 7 |  Pg 8 |  Pg 9 | 

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Thank you to everyone who contributed recipes and photos in the past years to help us share Lebanon's beauty with the world. Thank you especially to Aunt Maheeba's friend (sorry I forgot her name) who was originally from Saghbine (Lebanon) but who lived in Brooklyn and gave me many of these authentic recipes that she had saved from the old country. She shared them with all the young Lebanese wives who grew up here in the United States and did not have access to authnetic Lebanese recipes or training in Lebanese cooking "the right way". May she rest in peace.

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