Category Archives: Middle Eastern

Lebanese Warm Lentils

Lebanese Warm Lentils

Surprise! More Lentils!

Are you surprised?

Neither am I. I just love these little guys! They are packed with all sorts of good-for-you stuff, and just happen to be delicious. These buttery little beans (beans? they are in the bean family, right?) are about as versatile to cook with as they are easy to make. They are also incredibly inexpensive, particular if you buy them in the bulk section.

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Actually, the first time I ever bought lentils was last fall when I used them as part of my “autumn decor” (if you could even call it that). I bought yellow and red lentils, then just layered them in some mason jars with a candle in the middle. I only started cooking with lentils about six weeks ago!

Speaking of fall, I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that my beautiful morning light will be going away soon but soon I’ll have to face facts and figure out a method other than getting up at the crack of dawn to take photographs of my recipes. Do you have any ideas?

Also, I just confirmed the legume-status on Wikipedia, so at least we have that part down.

So, tell me. Why haven’t you jumped on the lentil bandwagon yet? Do you dislike protein? Fiber? B-Vitamins? Do I sound like your mother yet?

Just get with the program. Cheap, fast, delicious, and healthy. That should check off just about every item on your list.

Oh, lentils. You complete me.

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Let’s get cooking.

Makes: 4 main dish servings, or 6-8 side dish servings


  • 1 c. dried Brown Lentils
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. Grapeseed Oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh Parsley (Curly or Italian)
  • 1/4 c. fresh Mint Leaves
  • 1 c. Arugula Leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper


  1. Measure out your lentils, place them in a fine mesh strainer or colander, and rinse with cold water. Sort through the lentils to pick out any stones or debris which may be left behind.
  2. Place the rinsed lentils in a medium sauce pan and add 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. The water should be moving, but it shouldn’t be a full-on rolling boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for between 20 and 30 minutes. You want the water to maintain a soft simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, finely mince 8 cloves of garlic in a food processor (or use a sharp knife). Heat the grapeseed oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until a small piece of garlic sizzles at once when tossed into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add all of the minced garlic. Saute until the garlic is golden brown and crispy (about 6 to 8 minutes). Set aside.
  4. Chop up your fresh parsley, mint, and arugula. Set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper.
  6. Once the lentils are tender, remove from heat and drain any excess liquid. Return them to the pan and add the crispy garlic along with the mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Toss well to coat.
  7. Fold in the fresh parsley, mint, and arugula. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Serve warm, accompanied by pita bread, or as a side dish with buttery cod (highly recommended!)

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Nutrition (per main course serving, or 1/4 of the recipe):

335 calories, 18 g. fat, 13 g. protein, 32 g. carbs, 15 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 8

Recipe Adapted from Saveur Magazine, September 2012


Syrian Meatballs & Sweet Potatoes

Syrian Meatballs & Sweet Potatoes

For something as seemingly easy as meatballs, I sure had a heck of a time putting together this meal. None of the individual components are really all that complicated – it’s basically meatballs, some roasted red sweet potato, and brown lentils. Easy, right?

Well, it really should have been, except that my regular grocery store has been totally screwing me over lately by selling me bad produce. You’d think that I would be able to pick out good, non-rotting onions and red sweet potatoes but evidently NOT.

I really try my best to cook with as many fresh ingredients as I can get my hands on. You’ll very rarely see my recipes call for cans of anything or “cream of” anything, so I get pretty frustrated when I buy an onion and two red sweet potatoes on a Sunday and by Tuesday the onion is half moldy and one of the two red sweet potatoes practically dissolves in my hand when I pick it up. I bought the two sweet potatoes the exact same way! I picked them each up, gave them a little squeeze, and placed them in my cart. How is it that one of them can just go completely rotten in the span of 48 hours. Damn you, un-named chain grocery store near my house!

So I had been planning to make these meatballs (which call for one WHOLE onion, not half of an onion salvaged from a ball of moldy mess) along with a red sweet potato puree made with coconut milk. Sounds awesome, RIGHT?

Well since I only found myself with ONE red sweet potato instead of two, I didn’t quite have enough to justify the work of a puree, so I chopped it up and roasted it instead. I tried to peel it, but I guess red sweet potatoes don’t like to be peeled. Sooo I left the peel on and it was delicious that way anyhow. If you enjoy being frustrated, feel free to try to peel yours.

I roasted it with some oil, spices, and apple cider vinegar and it was absolutely delicious. Honestly, probably better than the puree would have been. Since I didn’t have a ton of sweet potatoes and I wanted to actually satisfy my hunger with this meal, I decided to make some brown lentils to bulk it up a bit. This also ended up being an awesome idea, because the lentils soaked up all sorts of delicious drippings from the onions and meatballs.


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In short, what started as a big failed project ended up being a truly delicious dinner. It was hearty, flavorful, and full of texture and color. Hooray!

Here are the recipes for both the Meatballs and the Sweet Potatoes:

Syrian Meatballs

Makes: 4 Servings


  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of salt, divided
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 2 cups of beef or chicken stock
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel and roughly chop the small onion. Place the pieces in a food processor and process until finely minced. Place 1 tsp. of salt over the onions and set aside to let them spit out their excess water for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, place the ground beef, egg, 1/2 tsp. salt, cinnamon, allspice and cumin. Once the onions have spit out their water, drain them and add them to the bowl. Mix with your hands until all is well incorporated.
  4. Form into marble-sized meatballs (have patience, young Jedi!) and place on a greased wire rack atop a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until brown in color.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Slice your large onion in thick rings and brown them in the pan until they are translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Once the meatballs are out the oven, toss them into the pan with the onions and add the broth and tomato paste. Stir well and let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let the mixture cook for 15-20 minutes until thickened.
  7. Remove from heat and add the juice from half a lemon.
  8. Serve with lentils and roasted sweet potatoes (recipe below)!

Nutrition (per serving):

345 calories, 24 g. fat, 23 g. protein, 9 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 9


Sweet Potatoes

Makes: 4 Servings


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. curry powder


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the diced sweet potato, oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, cumin, and curry powder. Toss to combine.
  3. Spread in a single layer on a 9 x 13 ” baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Toss, return to oven, and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are able to be cut with a fork.
  5. Serve warm.

Syrian Meatballs & Sweet Potatoes

Nutrition (per serving):

132 calories, 7 g. fat, 1 g. protein, 17 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 4