Today I set about cooking a Lebanese feast of food in our little kitchen and it was so relaxing. It is nice to mix up normal midweek meals and being home at the moment means I can do things like this… LOVE IT! In case you didn’t know, from mum’s side of the family I am 25% Lebanese. Which means it is the perfect excuse to cook Lebanese food!
Today’s menu for dinner was –
Tabouli.. if you are a regular reader you know my strong feelings about tabouli!
Cabbage Rolls (Malfouf Mehshi)
Beans and tomatoes (Lubiyeh)
Lebanese Rice Pilaf
What I love is these recipes, while they take a lot of time and work – they are worth it. The tastes are amazing and it is so healthy – you really can’t go wrong! Mmmmm!
So first, I started making the cabbage rolls which take the most time.
I made the stuffing – which is very lean, very good quality beef (or you can use lamb), rice, tomatoes and some spices.
Preparing the cabbage leaves was the most difficult. I cored a whole cabbage and placed it in a pot of boiling water, then after two minutes, took it out, peeled off what leaves I could and then put it back in. It isn’t the easiest task hand peeling a boiling whole cabbage but it was a nice adventure!
I cut the main stem of each of the leaves out of them – as having the core there makes them diffcult to roll. This lined the bottom of the pot so they don’t stick.
The cabbage got smaller…
I then set about stuffing and rolling the leaves and filling the pot.
I put a few cloves of garlic down in with all the rolls.
Then I had a mix of canned tomatoes and water that I poured slowly over the rolls. This is the liquid they would stew in. Note – in the end it was way too much liquid. I took some out and after speaking to mum made a little mix of some tomato paste and sugar that I poured in to make up for the watery consistency.
The little plate held down the rolls to stop them from popping up. Our dinner plates were a little too snug and I didn’t want to get it stuck in there so opted for a smaller plate instead and it was fine.
Set it to cook for an hour –
After the hour I squeezed in some lemon juice… and it is beautiful as is!
For the beans I sauteed some onions in the pan with a fair bit of extra virgin olive oil.
Once it was all soft and sweet I added some crushed garlic, spices and the fresh beans that I had prepared. I cooked these until they became bright green.
Then tipped in a can of tomatoes. This cooks and cooks and cooks – they have to be overcooked as it is more of a stew than side of blanched beans with a crunch. Easy? You bet!
For the tabouli, I cheat and instead of hand cutting I use the food processor as it is so much parsley and it makes it so fine.
Then I also process half an onion as it makes it so fine so you get the onion flavour without chomping on bits of raw onion through it.
Tomatoes were then finely chopped and added.
Then I put in the salt, pepper and a dash of chili powder.
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Then the secret, you put in the bulgur wheat but not a whole lot of it. Earlier, I poured boiling water over it and let it sit until it was cool and then rinsed it in cold water and drained it.
Then a big splashing of lemon juice.
And here is how it looks at the end…
For the rice, I put some butter in a saucepan and then sprinkled in some orzo and stirred this in until it turned a golden brown.
I then poured in some long grain rice.
Stirred this with the orzo until it was coated in buttery goodness.
I then poured in a mix of chicken stock and boiling water.
I let the rice come to a boil and then put a lid on it and let it simmer untouched for 20 minutes.
Then, I turned off the heat, lifted the lid and used the fork to fluff it up. Done! The rice is a great side as it soaks up the juice of the cabbage rolls and the beans!
All of the dishes were absolutely delicious. Here is Bill hamming it up for the camera before he even had Tabouli on his plate! It was all delicious with lots of leftovers.. mmmmm!