It’s the smallest country in the Middle East, but Lebanon packs a powerful culinary punch. Located on the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, it’s a perfect example of the type of delicious, nourishing and healthy foods being promoted by those who follow the popular Mediterranean Diet.
Is Lebanese cuisine the next big thing? According to Maeve Webster, president of Menu Matters, a consultancy focused on helping the food industry understand trends, “It’s a cuisine that carries a well-deserved healthy halo, because it uses any type of fat sparingly, has a very small presence of red meat (and then usually healthier and more sustainable choices like lamb or goat) and relies far more heavily on lean protein (particularly chicken), as well as plant-based proteins. It’s a cuisine that fits well with produce-focused culinary innovation.”
You’re already probably very familiar with two dishes that are a mainstay of Lebanese cuisines — tabbouleh and hummus. Try this hugely popular staff pick version of Tabbouleh. Or add a modern twist by teaming your Tabbouleh with Edamame.
If you’ve been buying hummus from the grocery store, you’ve been missing out on how easy and delicious it can be to prepare at home. Here’s a version of Hummus that’s easy to whip up in a blender or food processor. To make it as a main dish, try this Hummus Casserole, which layers the garbanzo puree with pita pieces, pine nuts, lemon juice, parsley, and ground beef.
The trend for shareable platters and snacks as meals just keeps growing, and Lebanese cuisine is a perfect fit for that focus. It’s easy to pull together a few dishes and enjoy a Lebanese mezze, a word derived from mazeh, the Farsi word for “taste.”
“Mezze is the Lebanese form of tapas, and it’s great to enjoy a series of small plates served as appetizers or drinks accompaniment with a few people across many plates,” Webster says.
Get started by making your own version of Lebanese cream cheese, called Labneh [LINK TO LABNEH ARTICLE]. It’s a tangy, creamy accompaniment for dunking, dipping and sharing. Its perfect served with Manaaeesh Flatbread made with Za’atar, a spice blend of thyme, toasted sesame seeds, and sumac powder that’s common in Lebanese kitchens. According to the recipe developer, it’s “a blend of many spices that will make your taste buds sing.”
As a main course, consider Lamb-Stuffed Zucchini (Koosa), which features a cinnamon-spiced tomato sauce. Or try Kibbeh, made from a blend of cooked bulgur wheat, mint and chopped onions combines with ground lamb and served with tahini. Lamb Shawarma is another popular choice, made from yogurt-marinated strips of lamb.
Check out all the tangy, tasty, and satisfying options in our collection of Lebanese Recipes.