Loubieh Bi Zeit or Green Beans in Oil

Maya Oryan - Loubieh Bi Zeit.JPG

Loubieh Bi Zeit literally means “green beans in oil” and is a Lebanese traditional vegetarian dish. Many local dishes use olive oil I think because Lebanon produces fine olive oil and combined to many ingredients result into absolute indulgence.

I prepare this dish using fresh beans, tomatoes, garlic and onions. I love this old-fashioned simple version, I change nothing add nothing!

This meal is refreshing, tasty and healthy, the combination of ripe tomatoes and green beans gives it a sweet flavor with a bit of acidity.

Classic!

Ingredients

  • 1kg flat green beans (a.k.a helda beans), washed
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 400 g ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ tsp Lebanese seven spices
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Fresh herbs for garnish

 Directions

  1. Top and tail the beans and cut into even-sized pieces.
  2. Fry the onions over medium-high heat until golden. Add the whole garlic, the flat beans, the pepper and the salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the beans are a vibrant green.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir.
  4. Cover with water and simmer on low-medium heat for about 25 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and add the tomato sauce. Continue cooking until the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes form a thick coating around the beans.
  6. Garnish with parsley, coriander or mint and serve at room temperature with fresh onions and flat bread.

 

 

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Stuffed Vine Leaves

MayaOryanIMG_8508-RPhotography Serge Oryan

Stuffed vine leaves are as easy as a salad to make! It has to be easy since this recipe was among the first ones I learned. In fact you combine all the ingredients same as you do for a salad, drizzle the olive oil and the lemon juice and start the stuffing. The rolling is not that complicated!

An authentic traditional recipe, prepared just like my mom and her mom before her. Stuffed vine leaves are really moreish, these juicy little bites, melting soft in the mouth are best consumed as an appetizer or as a main dish.This dish is one of the essential plates in Lebanese mezze. Because it’s vegetarian, it makes it a popular staple during the Lent period.

Full with nutritious ingredients, this meal is a heart-healthy choice for almost anyone. According to the nutrition data, Grape leaves are low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Niacin and Iron, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6 and Folate. They can provide your body with beneficial nutrients, from Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese to omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. What’s not to like about that!

 One last note, if using canned grape leaves, rinse the leaves gently with warm water and use, while fresh grape leaves have to be soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes before using.

Ingredients

  • 250g grape vine leaves
  • 1½ cup uncooked short grain rice
  • 4 cups parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup chickpeas, canned or cooked
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sweet pepper
  • 1-2 Potatoes, sliced in circles
  • Water
  • 2-3 tomatoes slices in circles

Preparation

To prepare the stuffing, combine uncooked rice, parsley, mint, onions, tomatoes and chickpeas in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, layer the potatoes slices as one layer.

Open flat the grape vine leaf, shiny side down, spoon inside the parsley rice mixture and roll tightly, closing the sides first. Arrange in pan placing the rolls closely one to the other. To finish, top with a layer of tomato slices and strain the reserve stuffing liquid over all.

Place a large plate on the top of the rolls to keep them holding together. Cover with water and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes.

Let cool and serve with yogurt. Garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves.

Note: You might finish the stuffing before the leaves, or the leaves before the stuffing. I tried to be as close as possible to the quantity of the ingredients, but it varies from one size of leaf to other and depends on the amount of stuffing you use in each roll.

 

Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes Caprese Salad

 

1.Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes Caprese Salad

Photography Serge Oryan

The beauty of Italy never ceases to amaze me, from north to south, armed with many authentic places (and recipes!!!) I fall in love with each city I visit. I was in Rome this month for my Birthday. My precious husband treated me with a 5-stars vacation and spent his time spoiling me.

What fall under the culinary section during my trip, are lots of Parmesan cheese, seafood and sparkling wine. From casual street food to Michelin starred restaurants, Italian cuisine is as influential as Rome’s artistic and historical assets. I selected only a couple of places to talk about, the ones I really want to visit again upon my next trip.

The first night we had dinner at Rinaldi al Quirinale, 11 via Parma, the next day we came back for their orange marinated salmon, Salmone Marinato all’Arancio; the best I ever had! On the way to Rinaldi, at the southern end of via Nazionale, my husband couldn’t resist the fab’ smell of the fresh and crunchy fries at Queens Chips. He ordered a piccolo (small) size, which was really a massive portion of freshly fried chips and sauce for €2.50!

Rome2015

After a long shopping day around the Spanish steps I was in the mood for some Italian cheese, fresh smoothie and a hearty salad. Ginger restaurant, via Borgognona 43/44, was the best place for that. The menu is a compilation of gourmet treats, well presented in a white, modern and trendy environment. They serve light meals, fresh salads and sandwiches. Not only I enjoyed my cheese selection with a refreshing Caienna smoothie (Avocado, dates, banana, almond milk) and a Fossa salad (Mixed salad leaves, yellow and red lettuce, rocket, spinach, dried tomatoes, turkey, goat cheese, organic walnuts, green apple), but I also got to meet and chat with the talented Soprano Zeina Barhoum, who happened to be sitting right next to us.

On our way back from the Colosseum we stopped by Aroma restaurant where we booked a table for lunch. This gourmet restaurant has been awarded with 1 Michelin star and its regional cuisine has been recognized with 5 Star Diamond Award! It offers a spectacular view on the Colosseum, highly recommended for a special event (like my birthday!!). The food was exquisite and creative and the attentive staff follows the chef’s dedication. This dining experience was so momentous and exceeded our expectations.

The Aroma2

ZAroma

On the last eve, I went to a gourmet store and bought fresh mini mozzarella balls, as I was dreaming about Caprese salad. My recipe is so simple and totally relies on the freshness of the ingredients. It requires no slicing at all. Combine all ingredients and toss with best quality olive oil. There’s absolutely no excuse for using average olive oil in your salad. The key to a perfect Caprese salad is to use only the good stuff. Don’t add pesto or balsamic vinegar; the less improvement you do, the better. The recipe is a classic as it is, do yourself a favor and don’t try to ameliorate it. It doesn’t matter what kind of tomatoes you use as long as it’s fresh! I love to use yellow and red tomatoes, as this slight twist adds elegance to the presentation also the sweetness of the yellow tomato rounds off the creaminess of the mozarella. Enjoy!

Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • 100 g red cherry tomatoes, washed and rinsed
  • 100 g yellow cherry tomatoes, washed and rinsed
  • 150 g mini Mozzarella Cheese balls
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Dried oregano, to taste
  • Extra virgin Olive Oil, to taste
  • Coarse Sea Salt, to taste

Preparation

Combine tomatoes and Mozzarella balls. Sprinkle with basil leaves, oregano and salt. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Serve with Italian grissini or some crusty bread.

White Beans Salad

White Beans Salad

Hello World! Isn’t it a beautiful day or is it just me! Kids are at school, which makes it much easier for me to concentrate on blogging and to stare at my screen and finish typing one whole sentence without being interrupted.

As much as I look forward for the school bus arrival in the afternoon, I SOMETIMES look forward for its departure the next morning. I must sound like a terrible mom, but it’s only when they’re at school that I enjoy my time guiltlessly! I can sense a lot of like-mindedness here, yes?

I can train 2 hours at the gym instead of 1, and when I go with Serge, I know that in between the reps we can leisurely chat, make plans or even exchange stories about Kaia and Axel.

Yesterday’s main topic was “beans”! Since meat is not right up my alley, Serge makes always sure that I’m at least having my share of pulses instead.

It’s kind of obvious, with so many healthy recipes on my blog, that I love healthy food, such as beans. They are very popular in my kitchen especially around this season with every grocer I visit, displaying elegantly his Aysha Khanum beans boxes. As the summer comes to a close, Aysha Khanum or shell beans (a.k.a Cranberry beans) are harvested. Beans inside the pods are now ready and plump. One variety is white while the other is white and blotched with red color; for the record, those red spots disappear once the beans are cooked.

During the last days of summer, I buy a lot of fresh shell beans, divide them in portions and freeze them for winter. It’s so easy to do; the pods open right up, releasing four to five beans each, I place all uncooked in freezer bags. The advantage is that they cook much faster than dry beans and taste much better.

My kids favorite white bean recipe is Fassolia bi Lahme, kind of a bean stew cooked with red sauce, meat chunks and served with rice on the side. I prefer the white bean salad, that probably you don’t need a recipe to make it, but I couldn’t help but share, especially after gazing at this gorgeous photo that I enjoyed styling while Serge was setting his camera and lightings. While on the surface this dish seems so simple in reality delivers some serious flavor!

P.S My Instagram account is @oryanmaya

White Beans Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups / 450g white or cranberry beans
  • or 1 can 450g of cooked white beans (washed and drained)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh chopped parsley, to garnish

Preparation:

If using fresh shell beans, place them in a pressure cooker and cover with water (the water should come 1 to 1½ inch above the beans level). Cover and lock the lid. Let it cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for further 10-15 minutes. Release the pressure and wait for the cooker to cool entirely. Open carefully and drain. Alternatively use regular saucepan, cover with water and cook until beans are soft and tender.

If using dry beans, soak overnight and cook as per previous instructions inside a pressure cook, but for about 50-60 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and drizzle over the beans. You can adjust the dressing to taste.

Garnish with parsley and serve with Lebanese pita bread and spring onions.

Two-Potato Gratin

Two-Potato Gratin IMG_4645

Hello storm, you’re wild and angry, violent and reckless and I don’t seem to like you! I’m nothing like ready for cold obviously; a powerful storm with violent winds and heavy hail and rainfall is ripping through Lebanon leaving me with limited desire to step out.

Meantime schools are shut and my daughters are, with all the kids of the neighborhood, celebrating the happy occasion. My doorbell kept on ringing, kids in kids out, …well if I look at it from the bright side, it was a good exercise for me especially that I skipped gym this morning;-)

So it was almost lunchtime and I still haven’t decided on what to cook! I went roaming in the kitchen when my sight fell on potatoes. Since I didn’t have enough of gold potatoes to make a large dish of gratin enough for guests and us, I added sweet potatoes! Results were gorgeous and crunchy. Yummm!

I have decided to eat more vegetarian food during January and I proudly add this recipe to my meat-free repertoire. I added a dash of curry to it while the cream was simmering and some parmesan cheese on the top before baking, that I don’t mention in below recipe, but now that I reveal it you may want to try it with curry or even chili for some spicy flavor.

Two-Potato Gratin 

Ingredients

  • 2 kg potatoes (half sweet potatoes and half gold), sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup Emmenthal cheese

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Butter a shallow ceramic baking dish.
  2. Pour the cream in a large saucepan, add salt, pepper, nutmeg and heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and drizzle with olive oil and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer half of the potatoes, layer them and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Top with the remaining potatoes; pour the cream mixture and sprinkle with the Emmenthal cheese.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes until gorgeous and golden on the top.