You've probably noticed that olive oil is an ingredient on almost all of the recipes we've shared. It's used a lot in Lebanese cooking, and is eaten cooked and raw. Compared to other cooking oils, it's one of the healthier choices. It has also been known to help with hair and skin health, but we are going to talk more about how it's used in food!
Olive oil is most commonly used to sauté meat and vegetables. It's also drizzled over a lot of prepared Lebanese dishes. Dishes like toum, hummus, baba ghanoush, and most importantly kibbeh nayeh (raw kibbeh) are examples of Lebanese foods that are eaten with raw olive oil. In toum, olive oil is an essential ingredient. In hummus and baba ghanoush, olive oil is optional and can be used as a garnish. Traditionally olive oil has always been added to kibbeh nayeh and it's basically a necessity for those who love this dish. Of course, there are some who prefer to eat it without!
Olive oil is the extracted juice from crushed olives. It comes with many labels, but the highest quality is labeled "extra virgin". This means there were no chemicals added to the oil and it contains nothing but the olive juice. Extra virgin olive oil is also said to be the most flavorful because it has the strongest olive taste. When we're planning on making a dish that we eat raw olive oil with, we always make sure to have extra virgin olive oil in our pantry.
Other types of common olive oils that you will find in grocery stores are pure olive oil, virgin olive oil, lite oil, and more. A difference that can be seen in these oils is their color, for example, extra virgin olive oil is on the dark green side and pure olive oil is more yellow. Each oil also varies in taste, quality, and additional ingredients added.
If you're interested in Middle Eastern cooking, it's good to know about olive oil and where it comes from! Be sure to research the different olive oil brands and figure out which one works best for your cooking and also for your budget.
I hope this guide gave you a little more information on this important ingredient! If you want to know more there are tons of interesting articles out there and even websites dedicated to olive oil. We just wanted to provide you with a little background on an ingredient you have seen/will see in nearly all of our recipes. :)
Here’s a recipe for the famous meatloaf with a Lebanese twist! Eva's mother used to cook this dish and Eva loved it so much she cooked it for her family too. I remember as a kid loving this dish (I still do today). We eat this meatloaf on top of rice (Riz Bil Sh-arieh) and with pita bread. A lot of Lebanese dishes traditionally mix rice with stews or broths (like Fasolia and Lubieh Bil Lahme) and this dish is one of them. All of the veggies used are optional, but we love the flavor they all add to the loaf! This dish takes over an hour to cook, so be sure to try this recipe when you have extra time.
1. In a mixing bowl add meat, diced onion, salt, pepper, parsley, bread crumbs and mix
2. Preheat oven to 475 and grease a baking sheet
3. Form mixture into a loaf. It can be any size you want, just make sure it’s firm and all together
4. Put in oven for 35 minutes
5. After 35 minutes, remove your loaf from the baking pan and add it to casserole dish (larger dish will allow you to have room for your veggies and juice - Eva used a 9.5 x 13.5 dish)
6. In your casserole dish, add 4 cups of water, onions, carrots, peas, and potatoes, another teaspoon of salt and place the casserole dish back into the oven for another 45 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender to the fork.
7. Start Riz Bil Sh'arieh or other rice of choice (that is, if you want rice!)
8. Add sauce after 45 minutes, and place it back in the oven for 10 more minutes