I tend to prefer my vegetables crunchy and bordering on raw, but Loubieh Bi Zeit is one dish I make an exception for. A Levantine dish, Loubieh Bi Zeit literally means “green beans in oil”. It’s an accurate description and yet it doesn’t do the dish any justice.
While some versions involve little more than flat beans, garlic and olive oil, I like when it’s prepared with fresh ripe tomatoes to round out the green flavor of the beans and lend them sweetness with a touch of acidity. Like Ratatouille, this is one of those dishes that achieves an incredible amount of complexity from simple ingredients, all without the aid of meat.
For my version, I start by thoroughly sauteing the flat beans, the high temperature of the oil helps tenderize the beans. Then, they cook together with the tomatoes, allowing all the flavors to intermingle. Finally, I like to saute them again at the end. This not only reduces the amount of water, concentrating the flavors, it also caramelizes the tomatoes, bringing forth their sweetness and umami.
If you can’t find flat beans near you you can also use regular green beans, though they may take less time to cook. The seven spice mix in this dish can be found at Middle Eastern markets, or you can make your own by blending equal parts ground black pepper, ground allspice, dried ginger, ground coriander, ground cloves, ground nutmeg and ground cinnamon.
While Loubieh Bi Zeit is traditionally eaten at room temperature as a mezze, it’s also quite good warm eaten as a stew.
Loubieh Bi Ziet (Green Beans in Oil)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 400 grams onion (2 medium onions)
- 36 grams garlic (6 large cloves)
- 400 grams flat beans (a.k.a. flat beans), trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
- 2 teaspoons Lebanese seven spice mix
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 400 grams ripe tomatoes (6 small tomatoes) chopped
- mint for garnish
- Add the olive oil onions and garlic to a pan and saute over medium-high heat until the onions are tender and starting to brown.
- Add the flat beans, spice mixture and salt and saute until the spice mixture is fragrant and the beans are a vibrant green.
- Add the tomatoes and then cover and turn down the heat to medium low. Simmer covered until the beans are tender (about 20 minutes).
- Remove the lid and turn up the heat to medium high. Let the liquid evaporate and then saute the vegetables until the tomatoes form a thick coating around the beans (another 5-7 minutes).
- Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with mint.
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.