Healthy Middle Eastern Recipes That Add More Flavor to Your Life
Roasted Broccoli with Harissa, Feta, Labneh, and Marcona Almonds
This broccoli dish—adapted from Michael Solomon, chef and co-owner of Zahav in Philadelphia—is made richer by labneh, a strained yogurt. To make it, place a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth over a bowl and fill with whole-milk yogurt. Refrigerate covered overnight. The strained yogurt will resemble cream cheese. (Use labneh in these healthy party skewer recipes, too.)
Half Grilled Chicken and Spearmint Yogurt
Sumac onions add a pickled component to the sauces, which lightens up this dish, adapted from chefs Ofir Horesh, Scott McDonald, and Eldad Shem Tov of Lamaolo in New York City. (Here's everything you need to know about pickling fruits and vegetables in three easy steps.)
Starting an afternoon or evening meal with a colorful spread of small dips, dishes, and bread is a Middle East tradition called meze. “Because it’s meant to be shared, meze brings people together,” says chef Shem Tov. “In this one course, there is more variety than in most full meals.” (Related: How to Assemble the Best Cheese Board, According to Experts)
To put your meze together, prepare a number of dishes with different tastes and textures. For balance, aim for at least two dips or spreads, one bread, several pickled items, and two salads. Get started with some of the options here.
- Pickles and Olives: Pickled beets, cauliflower, and onions bring a sour and crunchy element to your meze. Olives add some brininess.
- Dips and Spreads: Baba ghanoush and hummus are two classics. Also try skordalia and schug (recipe below). Give each a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of a dried spice like paprika, or a sprinkle of fresh herbs before serving.
- Bread: A must for scooping, dipping, and spreading. Make Lamalo’s crisp laffa, or serve warm pita brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar.
- Salad: Select a simple salad like tabbouleh, or drizzle seasonal vegetables with a vinaigrette.
- Secret Ingredient: In the Middle East, yogurt is often used in pastries, cakes, and breads. It adds complex flavors, a subtle sourness, and a softer texture to laffa (keep scrolling for a DIY luffa recipe).
Halloumi With Butternut Squash Marmalade, Pepitas, and Pickled Onions
The citrus notes and berry flavors of sumac complement the rich halloumi and sweet squash marmalade in this dish, also by Solomon.
Roasted Beet Salad With Dandelion Greens & Grapefruit
The crunchy spice-and-nut mixture in this recipe—adapted from Nathalie Richan and chef de cuisine Chad Gelso of Suraya in Philadelphia—is called dukkah. It can also be sprinkled on meats, hummus, and other dishes. (Like this salad, these other beet recipes are just as beautiful as they are nutritious.)
Laffa is a middle eastern bread that's thicker and chewier than pita. Make your own healthy version at home (using this recipe from the chefs of Lamalo) instead of scouring your grocery store for it.
You'll want to spoon this homemade red schug, a hot sauce made with sun-dried tomatoes courtesy of the chefs of Lamalo, onto everything.
Skordalia might sound exotic, but it's probably already one of your dinner staples: garlicky mashed potatoes topped with sliced almonds. Try this recipe from the Lamalo chefs.