Lebanese Mezze Recipes from My Cooking School in Uzès
A Lebanese Mezze consists of several small dishes for sharing with others. Every culture has its culinary creation to bring people together over a meal. For instance, Spanish tapas and American picnics! These are several recipes from Le Pistou Cooking School in Uzès for a workshop called Lebanese Bites. You learn and sample all of these recipes in one cooking class. Whether you are in Provence or elsewhere globally, the ingredients are easy to find.
I find that it’s easy to lose interest in daily cooking at the end of winter. But, especially if you’re environmentally friendly and cook with local seasonal ingredients, we have seen the same vegetables by this time of the year and are craving something new! So why not try something Lebanese – suitable for every season and a firm favourite among all those worldwide Ottolenghi fans.
These recipes are classics and intended for sharing, will feed at least five (5) people for a meal or more for a cocktail affair.
Lebanese pita bread is easy to make at home, but you need enough time to allow the dough to rise. Best served warm, and you can dip it in the Labneh spread!
Soft Lebanese Pita Bread
- 160 ml Warm Water
- 2 tsp Dry Fast Action Yeast
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 120 ml Warm Milk
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- ½ tsp Salt
- 400 g All-Purpose Flour
- 4 tsp Baking Powder
- Pour the warm water into a bowl and dissolve the yeast and sugar until it starts to get foamy. Stir in the milk, oil, salt, baking powder and 2 cups of flour.
- Stir well and then knead in the remaining flour until the dough comes together and leaves the sides of the bowl. Continue to knead for 5 minutes.
- Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces and form it into balls. Preheat a skillet or cast iron pan to medium-low heat.
- Roll each ball out to an 18cm circle, then cook each side of the bread for 2-3 minutes or until brown spots form and the bread is cooked through.
Slow-roasting meat is one of the simplest ways to cook some cuts that would otherwise dry out too much. For this lamb shoulder, I used za’atar which is a mixture of savoury dried herbs like oregano, marjoram or thyme, just like the Provençal herbs from the garrigue. But for extra flavour, the Lebanese add a few toasted spices like cumin and coriander seeds together with sesame seeds, salt sumac. The latter adds a delicious tanginess and is used a lot in Lebanese cooking.
Slow-roasted Lamb Shoulder with Za’atar
- 1.5 kg Lamb Shoulder
- 60 ml Olive Oil
- 2 tsp Fleur de Sel
- 1 ½ tbsp Za’atar Plus extra to serve
- 150 ml Chicken Stock or Water
- 80 g Tahini
- 160 g Greek Yogurt
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses Thinned with Water
- Garnish: pomegranate seeds and freshly chopped coriander
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Rub the lamb with 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tsp fleur de sel. Transfer to a baking dish and roast for 30 minutes or until golden.
- Sprinkle with za’atar, pour in the stock and cover. Reduce the oven to 160°C (325°F) and roast the lamb for 2½ hours.
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and chill until needed for the tahini yoghurt. If you prefer the sauce a little thinner, dilute with a bit of water.
- Once the lamb is cooked, sprinkle with more za’atar and serve drizzled with tahini yoghurt (diluted with a bit of water) and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and chopped coriander.
Labneh is a delicious spread that can be served with pita bread. You can mix the ingredients ahead of time and store them in the fridge. Add the Za’atar oil before serving and enjoy!
Labneh Spread + Za’atar Oil
- 350 g Greek Yoghurt
- 1½ tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- Mix all the yoghurt with lemon juice and salt. Pile into a sieve and suspend it over a bowl for 24 hours.
- Spread the mixture in a pretty serving dish and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with either za’atar or Aleppo pepper, some pomegranate seeds, or chopped pistachios.
Typically shawarma includes meat, but this quick recipe with cauliflower and pomegranate creates a healthy flavourful dish. Most importantly, it is a vegetarian dish that everyone will love!
Cauliflower Shawarma with Pomegranate
- 100 g Butter melted
- 1½ tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 clove of Garlic crushed
- 1 tbsp Ground Cumin
- ½ tsp Cardamom Seeds crushed
- 1 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Ground Sumac
- 1 whole head of Cauliflower cut into florets
- 4 tbsp Tahini
- 2 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 clove of Garlic crushed
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses thinned with water
- 2 tbsp Pomegranate Seeds
- 2 tbsp Flat Leaf Parsley chopped
- 1½ tbsp Pine Nuts toasted
- Preheat the oven to 210°C (410°F).
- In a small bowl combine the melted butter with the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, sumac.
- Break or cut the cauliflower into bite-size pieces, put it into a bowl and drizzle with the marinade.
- Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the diluted pomegranate molasses and whisk until smooth.
- Bake the marinated cauliflower florets until charred all over (about 15 minutes).
- Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle with the tahini sauce and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, parsley and pine nuts before serving.