Think of this as a Lebanese relative of ratatouille, if you like. It’s about using fresh produce from the garden or market, as available, and layering them in a pot. You can go as chunky or as fine as you like (look at the images for the variations). Just make sure the aubergine/eggplant is cut into larger pieces, as they cook the fastest. The kind of tomatoes you use here are important so do taste and adjust, adding more or less tomato purée/paste for color and richness when needed. You can find this dish in restaurants in the north of Israel.
With some creativity, some families in the north of Israel are creating similar dish, except they are calling it the Lebanese Pizza.
This dish takes about a hour to complete and while making it, the smell is wonderful.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 onions, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and crushed with the blade of a knife
- 250g/9oz minced/ground lamb or beef (beef takes longer to cook!)
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 1 large courgette/zucchini, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 large potato, roughly chopped 7 small tomatoes, quartered
- 2 thyme sprigs (optional)
- 2 heaped tbsp tomato purée/paste
- 1 aubergine/eggplant, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp pine nuts, to sprinkle
- sea salt
- Vermicelli Rice, to serve
- Greek yogurt, to serve (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, add the onions and garlic and let them sweat for 3–5 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Add the lamb, cinnamon and allspice, and season with salt.
- Stir well, then cook for a further 2–3 minutes until browned.
- Add the courgette/zucchini, carrots, potato, tomatoes and thyme, if using.
- Dilute the tomato purée/paste in about 750ml/26fl oz/3¼ cups water and pour into the pan and stir well.
- Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low.
- Add the aubergine/eggplant and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still have a slight bite to them.
- Toast the pine nuts in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan often.
- Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the ratatouille and serve with vermicelli Rice and yogurt, if you like.