Recipe: Mountain Gnocchi (Maakroun)

Gnocchi is always associated with Italy. Gondolas. Striped shirts. Butter and sage. But take a trip southeast, across the Mediterranean, to the old mountain villages of Lebanon and you’ll encounter something very similar. It’s called Maakroun –  a thick homemade pasta that is either fried and served sweet, or boiled and served with an intense garlicky lemon sauce called toum. While Maakroun is not made with potatoes, the shape is nearly the same – a little longer perhaps.

I would have never guessed that the Lebanese have something so similar to gnocchi. Never in a million years. But that’s what this Adventure is all about – discovery and trying something new. So get off your gondola, and put on your hiking shoes. We’re headed to Lebanon. And we’re going to eat pasta.

Recipe inspired by this regional tourism flyer from Douma, Lebanon.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
warm water, as needed (I used 3/4 cup)
1 tsp salt

Method:

Find yourself a happy mountainside. Or perhaps a beautiful window to cook by.

L: Mountain road in Lebanon. R: Stone windows in the Great Palace of Anjar. Photo by Guillaume Piolle.

Then, in a food processor with dough blade attached, buzz the flour, salt and olive oil together, scraping the sides once or twice.

The golden olive oil will coat the flour, paving the way for a super soft dough. 

Once all the grains are coated with oil, drizzle in the warm water until…

… the mixture begins to pull together into a ball. Some of it will be moist. A little bit will by dry.

Remove it all and knead together for a few minutes until a smooth ball forms. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bathing kitty cats happen…

Sorry about that. He has no shame.

Now, time to get fancy. Roll pieces of the dough into snakes cut into 1 1/2 long pieces. Press with a fork to make little indentations.

 

Like so…

Hungry yet?

Cook in salted boiling water for 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness and then coat with a few spoonfuls of toum – lemon garlic sauce.

Eat with a big appetite and a smile.

And imagine yourself in a mountainside village in Lebanon.

Village in Lebanon. Photo by A.K.Khalifeh.

Lovely.

<sigh>


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Comments

  1. aunty eileen says:

    yup… I can imagine myself in that mountanside village near the church with one of my many Kahlil Gibran books. In fact, I see it is the “Prophet”, the very first of his books that was given to me many a year ago by a Lady with a way cool name of Lulla Reeena. And, He is reading it to me :-) Great post as usual Sasha!

  2. Jessica Bennett says:

    I’ve either somehow missed this dish in the Lebanese restaurants I’ve been to, or they sadly don’t have it. It sounds delicious and will definitely be putting it on my list of things to make. I may even finally break down and buy a food processor as a gift to myself.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      From what I understand it’s an old-timey recipe that is being brought back (you can read a bit more at the link I posted right above the ingredient list)… so that might explain it’s absence here, in the USA. You’ve been talking about that food processor for a while – you deserve it (although I should say you *definitely* could mix this dough up by hand – it’ll just take a few minutes more, If you do, it might be easier to mix the oil and water a bit and then all to the dough together…?)

      • Jessica Bennett says:

        Thanks for the details on the recipe :)

        And yes, it’s about time I get a food processor. I have very few holiday gifts to buy this year, since I am now living alone and lost a great number of people in my life that I looked forward to celebrating with. So, in the spirit of giving, I will give a gift to myself- and then try to make some new friends and invite them over for a meal made with my new gift so I can give to others as well :)

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