Written by William Dobson
Lebanese food is synonymous with mezze and grilled meats. However, as is usually the case, the cuisine is actually much more varied. Furthermore, home cooking differs vastly from restaurant fare. Unfortunately, for most of us, the option of heading to Beirut and being invited into a local’s house isn’t necessarily viable. Thankfully though, Bethany Kehdy has kindly provided us with this recipe for loubyeh b’zeit (or green beans with olive oil), a traditional and healthy one-pot dish and one that has cemented my new found ‘appreciation‘ for vegetarian food (although for those desperate for a bit of meat, lamb could always be added).
Inspired by her childhood growing up on a farm in the mountains outside of Beirut and reflecting the fertility of the country, this is an incredibly simple dish. As with so much Mediterranean food, it relies heavily on the quality of the few ingredients used. Cinnamon and allspice add a exotic warmth, gently enhancing the fresh flavour of the beans, cooked with just a hint of bite, to go with the rich tomato sauce topped with a generous glug of olive oil. Served with freshly warmed flat bread, this dish will give you a taste of the Levant that you won’t find by heading to your nearest Lebanese. What’s more, here’s how Bethany makes it herself!
Photograph by Sarka Babicka
- 500g runner beans, topped and strings removed or just topped stringless runner beans
- 50g butter
- 6 tomatoes- peeled and coarsely chopped or use Italian canned
- 2 onions thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves- finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil, to taste, be generous
Add butter to a heavy-based saucepan on medium heat and saute onion and garlic. Cover and let sweat for 3-5 minutes or till translucent. Then add the beans, cover and allow to sweat a further 5 minutes or so. Add tomatoes, cinnamon, allspice, salt and cover.
Let cook on low for 20 minutes or till the beans are cooked through but still have a gentle bite. The sauce should have thickened. If it hasn’t just remove the cover and let it cook and the excess liquid will evaporate. Add olive oil mix and let sit for 5 minutes.
Dish up and enjoy warm or at room temperature with some Arabic bread to help mop up all the juices.