Cuisines all over the world have been creating delicious, plant-based traditions for hundreds of years. Here are five delicious Lebanese dishes that you should be eating to spice up your health journey and add more vegetables to your plate. Whether it is Batata Harra, which re-imagines a simple food like the humble potato, or Man'oushe za'atar, which is a flatbread that adds more spices to your plate with huge health benefits, give these five simple, quick recipes a try.

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1. Batata Harra

This is an incredible side or mezze dish and a great twist on potatoes to add to your weekly dinners or lunches. This dish can be eaten hot or cold, making it an easy lunch idea or a perfect meal to batch cook for the weak.

Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 fresh red peppers
  • 2 bunches of fresh coriander or 2 tablespoons of dry coriander
  • 7 – 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of mild pepper paste
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Half a lemon
  • 1 kilogram of potatoes
  • 5– 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of chili flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C then wash and peel the potatoes. Cut into cubes, this can be any size depending on preference. As I like the potatoes to have a little crisp, I cut them around 2cm. It is best that the potatoes are cut to a similar size so that they take the same amount of time to cook.
  2. Once the potatoes are the correct size, add the olive oil, the salt, and the chili powder and mix well till all potatoes are fully covered. Lay the potatoes on a tray – the tray must be non-stick or alternatively lay down some tin foil or a baking sheet to make sure the potatoes don’t stick.
  3. Turn the heat down to 180°C and then put the potatoes and set the timer to 20 mins. Times may vary slightly depending on the size of your potatoes. Don’t be afraid to check them with a fork if unsure.
  4. While the potatoes are in the oven peel the garlic cloves and crush with a pestle and mortar until the texture is paste-like (add a pinch of salt to stop the whole cloves from sliding). Squeeze the half lemon.
  5. Then wash and dice the red peppers into very small squares. You will need a non-stick pan and drizzle some olive oil, once hot add the pepper, and lightly fry for a couple of minutes they should soften but retain their crunch. Then add the garlic, coriander, pepper paste, lemon juice, and the chili flakes depending on your taste. Fry together for a couple of minutes then take off the heat.
  6. Once the potatoes are done grill for a minute or so on high heat to add a little more crisp and then add to the mixture in the pan a little bit at a time, mixing all the ingredients together.
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2. Fattoush

Fattoush is a different,  fresh salad idea that loads up10 vegetables in one go, a really easy way to up your vegetable intake and eat the rainbow.

Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 450 grams of tomatoes
  • Half a large cucumber
  • 100 grams of radishes
  • 1 sweet pepper
  • Half a head of iceberg lettuce
  • 100g of spring onions
  • 1/3 cup of roughly chopped parsley

For the Dressing

  • ¼ cup of pomegranate molasses (substitute balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of dried mint
  • 1 tsp of sumac

For the Toppings

  • 2-3 loaves of pitta bread
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 tbsp of zaatar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven at 200°C and line a tray with baking paper or tin foil. Cut pita bread into bitesize pieces drizzle the olive oil over them and sprinkle the zaatar. Mix well until every piece is well covered.
  2. Pound the garlic cloves with a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar until it becomes paste-like. In a small bowl add the garlic with the olive oil, molasses, lemon juice, mint, and sumac and mix well.
  3. Turn the heat down to 180°C and put the tray in the oven, set the timer for 7-10 mins or until golden brown.
  4. Dice the tomatoes into large chunks, cut cucumber and radishes into half-moons, chop the lettuce into bitesize pieces. Slice the spring onions and finely dice the sweet pepper. Mix it all together in a bowl.
  5. If there are likely to be leftovers its best to reserve the dressing for the salad that won’t be used to avoid it from getting soggy. Cover with crispy bread and enjoy!
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3. Ful, pronounced fool

Ful is the perfect breakfast quick to prepare because it is high in protein and will keep you full until lunch. It can also be a great early lunch that will see you through to dinner, or a side dish to go with any main course.

Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves 2

Ingredients

For the Ful

  • 1 can of fava beans (preferably a middle eastern brand)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1 whole lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the Toppings

  • Finely diced tomatoes
  • Roughly chopped mint leaves
  • Roughly chopped parsley
  • Finely diced onions or spring onions

Instructions

  1. Empty the can of fava beans in a pan and heat on light heat. Warm gently, stirring occasionally but don’t let it boil.
  2. In the meantime, pound the garlic with a pinch of salt with a pestle and mortar until it forms a paste. In a medium-sized bowl mix the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
  3. Choose the toppings you want to eat with your Ful and dice very finely. Once the fava beans have heated through drain about a third of the liquid and add the contents to the bowl with the garlic oil mix.
  4. Serve in a deep bowl with your chosen toppings and warm pitta bread to dip with.
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4. Man'oushe za'atar

Man'oushe za'atar is crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside Lebanese flatbread made with za'atar herbs for a super quick breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. You can eat it on the go with black tea in the morning or fill it with a variety of vegetables.

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the Zaatar mix

  • 1/3 cup of zaatar spice mix
  • ¼ cup of high-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Any wrap of your choice

For the dough

  • 300g of plain flour
  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 150 ml of warm water
  • 2 tsp instant rise yeast powder
  • 1 tsp salt

 For the Toppings

  • Tomato thinly sliced
  • Cucumber sliced julienne
  • Mint, torn
  • Olives halved

Instructions

  1. In a big bowl mix the flour, salt, and yeast together until combined. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the olive oil and warm water into it. With your hands or with a spatula bring in the flour from the sides and mix it well with the liquid. Keep doing this until the dough is smooth
  2. Cover the bowl with a cloth and place in a warm environment for 30 mins or until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. As the dough rises prepare the zaatar mix until well combined and slice vegetables.
  4. Once the dough has risen, divide into quarters and flatten them out into 4 flatbreads. Press each flatbread into a non-stick pan and cook for 7-8 mins or until golden brown. Lower the heat and spread the zaatar mix until the entire surface is covered with a thin layer and leave for a couple of mins. Alternatively, you can bake in the oven for 7 or so minutes at 200°
  5. For a quick hack, skip the preparation of the dough and use any wrap of your choosing. Heat lightly on a non-stick pan and spread the zaatar mix in the same way.
  6. Remove the wrap and add the vegetables of your choosing and wrap. Enjoy with black tea!
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5. Mjadra

This dish is a very easy recipe full of iron and very high in protein, thanks to the green lentils. Known in Lebanon as Mdardra, this food can be eaten hot or cold and is best served with a lemony crisp tomato salad.

Total Time: 40-45 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of green lentils
  • 3 cups of water
  • ½ a cup of rice
  • Salt (to taste)
  • ½ a large onion
  • Olive oil
  • 1½ tsp of ground pepper
  • ½ a teaspoon of ground cumin

Optional

  • Use the other half of your onion to caramelize and add as a topping to the dish. The easiest way to do this is to drizzle olive oil in a pan and heat at a medium to high heat for about 15 mins stirring often.

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, soak the rice in cold water for 30 mins. This is a very important step as it stops the rice from getting clumpy or mushy when cooked.
  2. In the meantime, put the green lentils in a pot on medium to high heat with the water and bring to the boil. Stir occasionally for 20 mins or until the lentil soften slightly, they must remain somewhat firm!
  3. While the lentils are boiling, chop the half onion into thin strips and fry in a small non-stick pan on high heat with ½ a teaspoon of ground black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
  4. Once the lentils have softened slightly, drain the rice and add this with the onions to the pot of lentils. Add a sprinkle of salt to taste, ½ tsp of cumin, and pinch of black pepper, you do not need cumin at all in this recipe as the flavors of the ingredients are delicious on their own! I like the dish to have a kick, so I add a little extra black pepper.
  5. Bring the heat right down and cover the pan for 20 mins or until all the water has evaporated.
  6. Try it at this stage and if the rice is still firm add a little more water and simmer until soft.
  7. Top with caramelized onions if you prefer and serve with a tomato and onion salad with a lemon-based dressing.