Recently, my husband and I stopped eating meat. To be perfectly honest, he’s a lot more disciplined about it than I am. If I'm out with others, I bend the rules a bit and find myself going for short rib tacos instead of the veggie option. As a food lover, swearing off meat altogether just doesn’t work for me. I am interested in all sorts of food and will try just about anything put in front of me.
At home, however, I control what's in the refrigerator. It's been a transition, but I am really enjoying it overall! Anyone who says vegetarians can only eat salad clearly never tried taking on the lifestyle for themselves. I’ve had a lot of fun figuring out ways to keep it interesting in the kitchen. Lucky for me, I had a few recipes handy in the beginning as I was starting out. If you're looking for a vegetarian or vegan recipe, there are some really great Lebanese dishes that are quick, simple, and satisfying.
One of my favorite meals even before the lifestyle change is Loubieh bi Zeit. In Arabic, it means “green beans in oil.” Here’s my best phonetics for you: loo-be-eh bi zayt. It’s a vegan dish made with green beans in tomato sauce and eaten with Arabic or pita bread. It’s a straightforward recipe in terms of ingredients and execution. If you’re a tomato person, this dish is for you. Fair warning, it’s definitely not light on the garlic! Personal opinion… If a lebanese dish is light on garlic, the only reason that might be is because it’s a dessert!
To me there really is nothing better than a healthy, low maintenance meal that is meatless, yet still filling. Loubieh bi Zeit is definitely one plate that checks all those things off my list. My mom makes this dish fairly often for my father, so I usually end up grabbing some from the refrigerator to take home if I happen to be there on the day she’s made it.
Instead of raiding her refrigerator, this time I went into my own freezer, since I had green beans from last season. We had a really great harvest last year and had more than we could eat! I absolutely can’t stand wasting food, especially since I am a “responsible adult” and see it as an unfortunate waste of resources to just let them go bad. Freezing was the best option, since it meant we could enjoy them throughout the winter months. I used my last bag when cooking this, but luckily spring is approaching and I’ll have some more before I know it! I really can’t wait for the warmer weather so I can start planting and harvesting. I never was much of a green thumb before, but if I can eat from a plant, I definitely am a lot better about keeping it alive. Some of my happiest moments last spring and summer were visiting my in laws and harvesting all the wonderful fruits and veggies we planted together. I really can’t wait to do it all again. I will probably be making this recipe a lot once the beans are ready to harvest! It will be even better when we have some fresh tomatoes as well.
2 Medium Diced Onions
½ Bulb Garlic, Crushed
2 lbs Fresh Flat Green Beans (You can do another variety green bean, but flat is preferred and you'll thank me later!)
2 Large Cans Crushed Tomatoes (My mother typically uses pinecone tomatoes, but any strew worthy tomato will do)
1 tsp Salt (or to taste)
Chop the onions, prepare the green beans and garlic and hold them all off to the side.Turn the stove to medium heat and warm a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil.
While it’s heating up this is a good time to crush your garlic in your mortar and pestle. I suggest adding the salt with the garlic as it creates a gritty surface and prevents the garlic from jumping out of the mortar when you first start. Hold the garlic off to the side.
When the skillet is warm enough, add the onions and sauté until golden. Once the onions appear golden in color, add the green beans and continue to sauté until beans start to become tender. Next you’ll add the garlic and crushed tomatoes. Let everything simmer until green beans are soft 30-45 mins on low heat, stirring frequently.
Once it is complete, enjoy! The dish is typically eaten with arabic bread, pita bread, or rice. It’s also a dish that tastes better as it rests, making it great for leftovers! I usually enjoy it most a day or two after it’s made because the garlic flavor becomes more pronounced. Overall, Loubieh bi Zeit is the perfect dish to make if you have vegetarian friends or otherwise coming over. It’s also great to have in the refrigerator if you just want something easy and healthy to eat. If you try the recipe, I’d love to see the pictures! Feel free to tag my instagram @culturetotable!