includes an abundance of starches, whole grain, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and seafood; animal fats are consumed sparingly. Poultry is eaten more often than red meat. When red meat is eaten it is usually lamb on the coast, and goat meat in the mountain regions. It also includes copious amounts ofgarlic and olive oil, often seasoned by lemon juice.; olive oil, herbs, garlic and lemon are typical flavors found in the Lebanese diet.
Most often foods are either grilled, baked or sautéed in olive oil; butter or cream is rarely used other than in a few desserts. Vegetables are often eaten raw or pickled as well as cooked.Herbs and spices are used and the freshness of ingredients is important.
In Lebanon, very rarely are drinks served without being accompanied by food.
mezze is an array of small dishes placed before the guests creating an array of colors, flavors, textures and aromas. This style of serving food is less a part of family life than it is of entertaining and cafes. Mezze may be as simple as pickled vegetables or raw vegetables, hummus, baba ghanouj and bread, or it may become an entire meal consisting of grilled marinated seafood, skewered meats, a variety of cooked and raw salads and an arrangement of desserts.
Although simple fresh fruits are often served towards the end of a Lebanese meal, there is also dessert, such as baklava and coffee. Although baklava is the most internationally known dessert, there is a great variety of Lebanese desserts.
A typical mezze will consist of an elaborate variety of thirty hot and cold dishes and may include:
- Salads such as the tabbouleh and fattoush, together with dip such as hummus, baba ghanoush or moutabal, and kebbeh.
- Some patties such as the Sambusac.
- Stuffed grape leaves
The Lebanese flat bread is a staple to every Lebanese meal and can be used to replace the usage of the fork.
Lebanese sweets include:
- Pastries such as baklava, Kaak, Sfouf and Maamoul.
- The Lebanese ice cream with its oriental flavors (Amar el Din made from dried apricot; fresh fruits; pistachio).
- The Lebanese roasted nuts with variety and mixes
- ¾ cup cracked wheat, finely ground
- 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
- 2 Tablespoons dried mint
- 1 or 2 bunches of parsley, cut fine
- ¾ cup green onions, thinly sliced
- Juice of one lemon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a bowl, cover cracked wheat with warm water and let stand about 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
- Mix tomatoes, mint, parsley, onions, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a separate bowl.
- Add the drained wheat and mix well.
- Add more lemon juice and olive oil, if needed. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
- Serve in a bowl, or on a bed of lettuce leaves, with pita bread cut into triangles.
- 1 can cooked chickpeas
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 Tablespoons tahini (a thick paste made from ground sesame seeds; found in specialty stores)
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons cold water
- Heat the cooked chickpeas over medium low heat. Remove from heat and mash by hand or in a food processor, reserving a few whole ones for garnishing.
- Add tahini, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt, and water. Blend the mixture until it is creamy.
- Pour the thick dip into a deep bowl. Garnish with whole chickpeas and chopped parsley. Sprinkle with olive oil and serve with pita bread.