One of the most popular vegetarian summer dishes in Lebanon, loubieh bi zeit is light and delicious. Enjoy a wonderful flavour combining the sweet and juicy Romano beans with sweet sun-ripened tomatoes. The broad, flat green beans are crunchy and perfect for making loubieh bi zeit. I cook them in olive oil with onions and garlic cloves, and season them with cinnamon, black pepper and salt until half-done, then slow-braise them with tomatoes until they soak all the flavours. When I can’t go to the farmer’s market and spot tomatoes at the supermarket that are highly suspicious of tasting bland, I steer my shopping cart to the canned food section and buy sun-ripened plum tomatoes instead.
Although I love eating vegetarian dishes when they are still lukewarm or at room temperature, they still taste best when they are allowed to rest one night in the fridge. Vegetarian dishes, also known as cold Meza dishes, can be planned and prepared ahead of time for lunch, dinner or even a party.
Loubieh bi zeit - Green Beans in Olive Oil
- 2 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion 150 g, peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half-moon shapes
- 8 small garlic cloves peeled and halved
- 500 g Romano green beans trimmed on both ends, strings removed if any, and then rinsed and halved
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 500 g ripe tomatoes rinsed and chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the onions and the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until wilted and slightly brown, stirring all the time. Mix in the green beans, sprinkle with the salt, the cinnamon and black pepper. Reduce heat to moderately low, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes, or until beans are tender. Add tomato paste and adjust taste. Continue cooking, uncovered, for about 10 minutes to thicken the sauce a bit.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and eat warm or cold with pita bread.