Lebanese green bean stew (Loubia b'zeit) is a really great dish to learn when you start out learning to cook. It is not only a classic Lebanese dish but it's also one of the simplest.
Green beans are cooked in olive oil, hence the title 'b'zeit' and stewed in a basic tomato sauce.
As it's a stew you should leave it to simmer on low heat so all the flavours melt together, but be careful not to overdo it as you don't want mushy beans.
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Middle Eastern food doesn't tend to favour leaving vegetables crunchy and I am forever telling my mum not to totally annihilate her veggies, but in this case you don't want to keep 'the crunch' as it doesn't do well when scooped up with flat bread.
Most recipes add black or cayenne pepper but I substitute half a green chilli which isn't traditional but I think it works.
I love the burning sensation that hits the back of your throat a moment after you take the first bite.
My recipe also uses 1 large onion (or two small onions) which I caramelise to enhance that umami flavour. Turn the heat up for the first five minutes then reduce to low for around 20 minutes.
When you have enough patience to properly cook onions, that's when your cooking will take off and people will ask you 'what's the secret to your good cooking?' and then don't believe me when I tell them that I cooked the onions properly.
Seriously, if you know how to manipulate the base of any recipe (i.e the onions etc) then you will establish a good foundation for your cooking.
The other wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can use frozen or store cupboard ingredients and it will taste almost as good.
It is perfectly acceptable to use frozen green beans or canned tomatoes when out of season, and this starter can be eaten both hot and cold. It tastes even better the next day too.
Lebanese Green Bean Stew (Loubia b'zeit)
Green beans slow cooked in a tomato sauce
- 1 large onion chopped
- 300 g green beans fresh or frozen
- 4 good size tomatoes or 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato concentrate
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- ½ a birds eye chilli chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3-4 tablespoon mild olive oil
- ½ cup of boiling water
Chop the onion and add to a pot with a good drizzle of mild olive oil
Sauté the onions on low heat until caramalised. This may take twenty minutes
Follow by adding the chopped garlic and chilli to the onions. Saute for 1-2 minutes taking care not to burn the garlic
Wash and trim the ends off the green beans and sauté with the garlic and onion mix for ten minutes until they turn a vibrant green
Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato concentrate, salt and water.
Bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking for around 30 mins until the beans are done
Serve with fresh flatbreads.
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Maggy, red ted art
Oh that look delicious!
I add taspoon cumin and teaspoon of Baharat, you can add a little sugar if it's too acidic.
Easiest lunch in half an hour
Stanley M Weinberg
I didn't caramelize the onions but farmers market green beans and tomatoes made up for the omission. Oftentimes the simplest preparation and ingredients yield the most surprisingly delicious food. Tastes great cold.
Thank you so much.
As a boy with an Irish descended mother and a Lebanese father here in the USA, we made this all the time when I was a child and I do as as adult on occasion. Of course, my mother, being Irish, added potatoes to the stew, an addition I grew to love as it made it more filling.
There were very few Lebanese growing up with me where I was, and I grew up thinking that loubia b'zeit was common American dish. When I met my wife and made it with her when we were dating, she was perplexed as to what it was saying, like most Americans, that she never saw it before. Of course, she loved it.
I have very vague memories of my sitoo or jidoo calling it loubia, which makes sense as we added little olive oil to it if any at all - or, more likely, the addition of olive oil became forgotten as the generations wore on.
Interestingly enough, with the much later influx of Lebanese immigrants due to the civil war, a lot of our Americanized recipes were "repaired" by immigrants who came over and said, "That's nice but here's how you're supposed to do it!"
Similarly, we never had the green what we called then "Syrian squash" when I was growing up. My dad would describe it to me, but it simply was not available. Instead, when making stuffed squash, I only knew of using the yellow summer squash to make kousa mahshi. It wasn't until i was an adult that the Syrian-Lebanese green squash became more available and recent Lebanese would tell me, "It's okay to use the yellow squash, but here - it's better with this!"
Thanks David, we loved hearing about your experiences and how food connected you to your family heritage, we are glad we could be part of that journey! Z&Z
I'm from Iran and the base of every good stew is a good caramelized onion! It's the secret ingredient. Making a similar dish tonight, but Iranian style Loobia Sabz.
It was perfect. It tasted just how I remember my father's recipe (no chili pepper). We made it again with one tabasco pepper, and it also came out amazing.