Middle Eastern Spiced Green Beans with Olive Oil and Tomato (Loubieh bil Zayt) is a dish that’s simple to make, but complex in flavor. This dish is heady with aromatic spices, onion, and garlic, and the green beans take on a nutty flavor after being toasted in olive oil.
I don’t think there’s anything more intimate than sharing a meal with someone. Food is so deeply intertwined in who we are…meals our moms made for special occasions growing up will always be special. Holiday foods remain festive in our minds and are reserved for once a year. And there’s nothing quite like the feeling of watching someone truly enjoy a meal you made for them.
Few things in life bring people together the way mealtime does, and once we focus on the food, we’re able to let the stress of the daily grind just sort of melt away, even if it is just for a brief moment. Along with breaking bread comes the connection to other people; more than the primal need to eat and nourish the ones we love, it brings sense of camaraderie and companionship. We can put our differences aside and let our common ground and the joy that goes along with sharing a good meal be the common denominator.
When Saghar from Lab Noon invited me to participate in her Virtual Midsummer Potluck for Peace, I was immediately intrigued. The idea is for everyone to bring a dish from their own cultural background and people talk and laugh and eat instead of fighting. I love it.
Instead of sharing a dish I grew up with, I wanted to share something else. Something from a culture that I had the opportunity to completely immerse myself in and will be forever grateful for the experience. I remember the first time I had this dish; I was living in Amman, Jordan at the time and my mother-in-law had invited a few ladies over for lunch. They made a day of it, cooking and getting work done as they laughed and chatted; they were making Ma’amoul (stuffed date cookies), Waraq Ainab (stuffed grape leaves), and Makdous (spicy oil-marinated eggplant). At the end of the day they divvied up the loot and all took some home to their families.
Lunch that day was simple, basically anything that was in the fridge was fair game. Fresh herbs, sliced tomato and cucumber, salty olives, labneh glistening with olive oil, fried eggs, hot flatbread (for scooping up everything else), and the best green bean dish of my life.
This dish comes from my cookbook, and here’s what I said about it: “I’ve been eating green beans all my life. I’ve always liked them well enough, but they never wowed me until I had this dish. The beans take on a slightly nutty flavor from being toasted in olive oil, and that, paired with the sweetness of tomato, savory flavor of garlic, and subtle spice notes of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves has left me with green bean cravings for the first time in my life.”
Here’s what the others are sharing:
Adventures in Cooking: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches
Brewing Happiness: Healthy Southern Baked Beans
Cloudy Kitchen: Earl Grey Blueberry Pie
Cook Til Delicious: Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles
Delicious Not Gorgeous: No Mai Fan
DisplacedHousewife: Strawberry Scone-Cakes With Fresh Orange Blossom Whipped Cream
Donuts, dresses and dirt: Tahini Pavlovas
Floating Kitchen: Blistered Green Beans with Apricots and Chive Blossoms
Ginger & Toasted Sesame: Walnut Bread with Boursin and Prosciutto
Harvest and Honey: Chasing Summer
Hortus Cuisine: Panino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula
On The Plate: Sriracha Scotch Eggs
Ruby Josephine: Halwa d'Tmar (Moroccan Date-Stuffed Cookies)
Tasty Seasons: Grilled Mojito Chicken
Tending the Table: Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Parsley and Currants
TermiNatetor Kitchen: Strawberry Shortcakes with Gluten-Free Yogurt Biscuits & Mint Whipped Cream
The Little Epicurean: Halo-Halo (Filipino Shave Ice Dessert)
This Mess Is Ours: Simple Tomato & Avocado Salad
Twigg studios: Roasted Beet Leek and Feta Quiche
Vermilion Roots: Tofu Salad with Spiced Peanut Sauce
Wood and Spoon: Strawberry Almond Skillet Cake
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 lb (450 g) green beans, stem ends trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch (2.5-5 cm) pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed in a mortar and pestle with ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 lb (450 g) tomatoes (about 3 medium), diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup (125 ml) water
- Heat the oil in a large lidded skillet over medium heat; add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the green beans and sauté until they start to take on a little color, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, and nutmeg, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and water and bring up to a boil. Cover the skillet, turn the heat down to simmer, and cook until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Once the beans are tender, uncover the skillet, turn the heat up to moderately-high, and cook until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
For the Meat Lovers: This dish is also wonderful with the addition of beef or lamb stew meat that’s been cooked until melt-in-your-mouth-tender.
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