Levantine

"Levantine cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Levant, known in Arabic as the Bilad ash-Sham. This region shared many culinary traditions under the Ottoman Empire which continue to be influential today. It covers the modern states of Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Northern Iraq, Palestinian territories, and parts of southern Turkey near Adana, Gaziantep, and Antakya (the former Vilayet of Aleppo). Aleppo was a major cultural and commercial centre in this region. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of this cuisine are mezze including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levantine_cuisine)

Menu for the Week of October 7

Sun: Steak with corn and tomato salad
Mon: Pomegranate Lamb http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/pomegranate-marinated-lamb-with...
Tue: Fatteh bel djaje
Wed: Dinner out with friends
Thu: Basmati Rice and Summer Veg Salad http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/basmati-rice-and-summer-vegetab...

Fatteh Bel Djaje

Fatteh Bel Djaje

This original recipe (attached) came from a cooking class we took at Lebanese Taverna for a friend's birthday. We finally made this at home, and frankly, the original recipe was way too complicated. I post here a simplified, notional recipe that I may refine in the future.

The basic thing you're making is a layering of chickpeas, chicken, pita chips, yogurt, and garnishes - "Lebanese nachos," if you will. To make this an easy weeknight meal, you're ideally using leftover chickpeas and chicken, buying pre-made pita chips, and doing only minimal preparation on the day of. It does require some pre-planning but makes the final "cooking" really easy. Yes, it's tastier if all of these things are freshly made and still warm, but whatever. I'm a working woman.

3
Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Spiced Salmon Kebabs

Salmon Kebab

Courtesy of Bon Appetit, an easy and tasty recipe with a middle eastern flavor profile.

Serves 2

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 pound skinless salmon fillet (preferably wild), cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 lemons, sliced into rounds approx 1/4" thick
2 tablespoons olive oil

3.5
Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

Kofta (Mediterranean Meatballs)

Kofta

This tasty and relatively easy recipe came from this fantastic cookbook centered on one of my favorite cuisines. The recipe calls for a mix of lamb and veal, but lamb alone would probably be good too.

Makes 24 kofta.

1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground veal
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3-4 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 large medium-hot red chile, seeded
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3
Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Menu for the week of Feb 24

Zeresk Polo

This week we wanted tasty, and easy to prepare ahead of time, so we went with a levantine theme:

Lamb Tagine with Apricot couscous

Brick Chicken with Zereshk Polo

Fattoush Salad with fried chickpeas

Burnt Eggplant with Pomegranate Dip

Burnt Eggplant

Ingredients:
2 large eggplants
3 gloves garlic, minced
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
4 Tbsp olive oil

To finish:
2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional: top with smoked salt.

Char eggplants on a stove top (~20 minutes), grill or on a broil mode in the oven (~45 minutes, turning twice). Turn around so it is very charred all around. If broiling, piece the skin in multiple places.

2
Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Pomegranate Lamb Shank

Pomegranate Lamb

When we first made this dish, we noted that it was good but a lot of effort. In this year's Bon Appetit food cleanse, they included a recipe with a suspiciously-similar flavor profile but significantly less work. We tested it out and it was good and pretty easy. The lamb still has to braise for like 4 hours in the oven, but the prep beforehand is very simple. Great for a snowzilla of a day!

Serves 4

3
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Moroccan Carrot Salad

Carrot Salad

Adapted from The Bitten Word, adapted from Food & Wine.  We didn't have any Harissa handy, so we improvised.  This salad provides a great, bright and spicy contrast to a tagine dish.

For the salad

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  • 2 cups carrots, shredded or thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 5
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    Middle Eastern Salad

    Fattoush salad with fried chickpeas

    I am a big fan of any number of "middle eastern salads" - lettuce-less salads which go by different names (with slightly different twists) in a variety of middle eastern and mediterranean cuisines. Yes, there is a difference between a fattoush salad and a shirazi salad, but frankly, I find that what I want is the same basic recipe with a few optional modifications, depending on how the dish will fit into the week's menu.

    The basic vegetable components of the salad are:
    Diced tomatoes (or halved cherry tomatoes)

    4
    Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

    Spiced Eggplant with Bulgur Salad

    Spiced Eggplant with Bulgar salad

    A delicious and easy Bon Appetit recipe.

    Serves 2

    1/4 cup olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
    1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon peel (optional)
    1 garlic clove, smashed
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more

    1 medium eggplant (9–10 ounces), halved lengthwise

    4.5
    Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

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