Loubieh bil Zeit (Green Beans with Tomatoes)

You can find this dish served literally everywhere throughout the Middle East and North Africa, even though most cookbooks featuring recipes from this region avoid adding this simple-to-prepare and humble dish…probably because it is not the sexiest dish to look at. It is, however, outstanding in it’s flavor and perfect as a summer side dish.

Braising vegetables in olive oil and tomatoes is actually quite popular throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. The origin of this style of cooking clearly comes from the Jewish Sephardic world. The fingerprints of braised vegetables in olive oil and tomatoes can be found everywhere from Spain to Italy, Turkey and North Africa – the exact same places the Sephardic Jews traveled several hundred years ago after getting expelled from Spain.

My Moroccan mother prepared this dish often – favoring the use of wide ‘Romano’ green beans. I recall the slight suggestion of heat she would sometimes sneak into the sauce just to keep us alert at the dinner table (I loved her playful spirit on full display in this recipe).

You can also make an interesting version of this recipe using zucchini (courgettes) instead of the green beans. Drop a bit of lemon juice into the sauce at the end of the cooking and just before serving to preserve the green color of the vegetables.

Yield: makes 4-6 servings

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