Green beans in olive oil (Loubyeh bi Zaht)

A standard purchase from our local Hornsby Growers Market is a bag of green beans. Sometimes they are added to a curry, sometimes they are blanched and tossed together with fennel and orange to make a vibrant salad. Sometimes I will just stare at them for hours at a time, pondering the true beauty of their verdant, glossy, bean-like attributes. But mostly likely, they will end up in this dish.

I like to fancy that I am a teeny part Lebanese, not through blood but through osmosis. A dear friend (who’s hubby is of Lebanese origin) gave me Abla Amad’s cookbook, ‘The Lebanese Kitchen’ about 12 years years ago. Abla started her restaurant in 1979. It soon became a Melbourne dining institution and is still serving simple, traditional style Lebanese food today. Having never eaten there, it is definitely on my list of things to do. Anyhoo, it has been a pleasure to trawl through this book and experiment with the variety of tasty dishes that grace the pages.

My next Middle Eastern connection was making friends with yet another amazing chick through mothers group. Our sons were born around the same time and she is also of Lebanese heritage. The tip of caramelising the onions for this dish came from her mum. (Just saying, but this good friend has yet to cook me a Lebanese feast…..I am still waiting.)

The Yak and myself love this dish served with baked or roasted potatoes and veggie burgers. It’s equally good with kafta (lamb mince patties), grilled chicken or haloumi. Other great pairings include quinoa dishes, stuffed eggplants or capsciums and flatbreads. It is equally yummy served hot, cold or warm.

Mopping up the velvety sauce at the end with whatever carbohydrate you fancy is the best bit.

Green beans in olive oil (Loubyeh bi Zayt)

1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
500g green beans, top and tailed and cut into 2cm length
1 1/2 tsps ground allspice
1 tin (400g) diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and sauté the onions until they are a dark golden brown. Cook over medium heat, this takes about 10-15 minutes.
Add beans and stir, then add allspice and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add tomato, salt and pepper.
Replace lid and cook for 30 minutes over low heat, cooking until beans are tender. (I usually take the lid off for the last 10 minutes). I taste for seasoning about half way through, you may need a touch more salt.

You can make this dish without tomatoes but I never have. I love allspice but if you are unsure, try 1 teaspoon to start with. Seriously folks, take the time to caramelise the onions. It adds a depth of flavour that was missing when I used to sauté the onions lightly.

Adapted from The Lebanese Kitchen by Abla Amad

15 thoughts on “Green beans in olive oil (Loubyeh bi Zaht)

  1. lucyjoamos

    This looks delicious and definitely something I want to try now. I’m just a bit nervous of cooking the beans in the tomatoes for 30+, do they not go a bit limp and soggy?

    • I am just about to have some now! They do go quite soft, it’s kind of the way the dish is but if you like them with more bite, just cook them for 20 minutes, covered for 10 and uncovered for 10. (In the cookbook Abla suggests 30 minutes cooking, but only 20 if you prefer crisper beans.)

      • lucyjoamos

        It was just something I thought of as I usually like them with bite but saying that it might not make the dish taste right if they are still too hard. Thanks for the tips and advice!

      • No worries! I love talking about food and all of its potential, possibilities. (Gather you do too!) I do hear you, I enjoy my sautéed green beans with a bite too.

    • I just amended the recipe back to 30 minutes, the cooking time tends to be a bit variable but just to be safe. It’s really until they are tender, I sometimes cook them a bit longer than 30 min to get the sauce really silky and I quite like the texture of the softer bean. 🙂

  2. Leanne Sagala

    Delicious! I hope this amazing chick of Lebanese heritage gets her act together soon!
    I hear her husband’s still waiting too!

    • Well, then, more than one of us are waiting for that person to pronounce ‘T’fadalou’. Abla Amad says that this is a Lebanese expression meaning ‘Come eat at my table’. 🙂

  3. Did i know that you are from the Hornsby area? I seem to assume most bloggers are from overseas that i get a nice surprise to learn when they are not just from my country, but also my state!

      • Lol. Yes, i do now 🙂 Yes, we are far south coast however my parents live in the Hornsby area! Quite a bit of my family do actually.

        And it’s very nice to meet you too 🙂

  4. troppodon

    Tell Leanne to get on with it…the Leb meal that is….

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  5. Pinny

    Thanks! I loved using Abla’s cookbook to cook this and other recipes. As the book was a present I had given my husband years ago, it now is now an ex-cookbook living with my ex-husband! I am happy to have found it on your site and will be cooking it tomorrow for lunch with my family. Some things have to come to an end, but good memories of happy times can still be found in food loved and shared. (Nice that you live in the same lovely area we used to! )

    • Hello Pinny! Thanks for stopping by. These beans are such a staple for the Yak and I. I love her book and love the sentiment behind your words. Hope the beans turn out well for you. You used to live in these here parts? Well cool. Hope to catch you in the blogosphere again.

  6. Pingback: Tofu in BBQ sauce for hot, muggy days | The Cheergerm & the Silly Yak

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