Menu: Lebanon

Ava helps mama make maakroun.

In between brushing Ava’s hair, making her breakfast and playing with scissors, paper and glue, I like to pretend we’re traveling. This week it’s all about Lebanon. I tell her about mountains and snow. We look at pictures of bustling city and sleeping country. We watch clips online. We talk about the pretty trees and the winding roads.

She responds to it all by saying, in her sweet broken toddler-tongue “I want go, right now.”

“Where,” I ask?

I smile, leading her to repeat the very-big-word Lebanon back to me.

“Christmas” she says, unblinking.

Not exactly what I thought she’d say.

Oh, to be a two year-old again. 

And, yet, here I am, taking her to Lebanon via stovetop travel. Everything about this week’s menu is fantastic. Two heads of garlic. Roasted eggplant. Homemade pasta. Warm, cozy tea. The menu also happens to be entirely vegan. Nothing wrong with that.

Not when it tastes this good.

What sounds good to you?*

Baba Ghanoush with Roasted Garlic [recipe]
Smoky eggplant dip seasoned with lemon juice, tahini, parsley and an entire head of roasted garlic.

Garlic-lemon Sauce (Toum) [recipe]
A perfectly smooth sauce made with nothing more than an entire head of raw garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. (!)

Mountain Gnocchi (Maakroun) [recipe]
Lebanon’s answer to gnocchi – this vegan pasta is made with just flour, olive oil, salt and water.

Baby-mama’s Spiced Tea, from Lebanon (Ainar)  [recipe]
Take the chill out of the air with this tea made with caraway, cinnamon, anise and nutmeg. Serve with sugar and pour over an assortment of nuts.

*All recipes and the review will be posted by Monday morning.


  1. I’m intrigued by the toum – I’ve had a similiar sauce at some Lebanese restaurant and I’ve been dying to recreate it ever since. I think it was not made of raw garlic, it was not very harsh, creamy and delicious. I’ll try your recipe and see how it compares (no social life for a couple of days after, just in case 🙂 ).

    • John Goodenow says

      I think if you share this with the right person, your social life will be locked in for the week-end. Maybe not a bad thing.

      • Sasha Martin says

        Exactly my thoughts, John. Caffettiera, it might be the same, perhaps with more olive oil than I used.

  2. You could be homeschooling…all you need is the math…and you could work that in too…how many maakroun for papa, how many for mama etc…

    A friend’s mother used to make kibbeh aka kibby – with lamb…it was a real treat…

    • Sasha Martin says

      Every second of the day is a learning opportunity… in fact we were just counting chestnuts before roasting them. 🙂

  3. Stephanie says

    Any idea of a good substitution for tahini in the Baba Ghanoush? My 2.5 year old daughter is highly allergic to sesame seeds, which we discovered when we gave her a tiny bit of Baba Ghanoush shortly after her first birthday. But I ADORE baba ghanoush – the smokiness of the eggplant is sooo good, and I’m craving it (being pregnant with number 2). Is tahini really necessary?

    • Sasha Martin says

      You can definitely leave the tahini out and it’ll still be delicious. Purists will tell you it won’t be the same, but I often left it out since I didn’t like tahini for the longest time. It’s only recently I started using it.

    • Maureen says

      My daughter can no longer eat baba ghannoush either, but it’s the eggplant to which she has developed a reaction. Are you sure the culprit is the tahini? If so, you might try almond butter to replace it.

    • Carine says

      An interesting way of making Baba Ghannouj is by substituting the Tahini with yoghurt. We really like tahini in my (Lebanese) family but for some reason my mum always makes it with yoghurt and it tastes as good.

  4. Maureen says

    My family is from Hardin (in the mountains of northern Lebanon), and maakroun was one of my favorite foods as I was growing up. I always looked forward to my Uncle George and Aunt Theresa serving it at their annual 4th of July parties. The sauce is also great on Lebanese potato salad– which also includes potatoes (of course!), parsley, and scallions. I like to add some cayenne red pepper for a bit of a kick, too. This is a great for a picnic because there isn’t any egg or mayonnaise that would spoil!

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