Posted in Food, Recipes, Seasons, Winter

Enter Through the Middle East

The weather today is horrible: frighteningly high winds and freezing cold weather. Something got knocked over outside and it scared the hell out of me. The windows are rattling and cold air is managing its way through, despite the rope caulk and other weatherizing measures. Very unsettling.

Given the unfriendly weather, I decided to finish off my week of Middle Eastern food from that fabulous cookbook I was talking about earlier: “From the Lands of Figs and Olives.” Right now we’re the land of skeleton trees, gale-force winds and ice, so I figured that figs and olives would go a long way towards warming things up.

I couldn’t have asked for a tastier repast. In addition to the leftovers I also made a fava bean-egg dish and little breads topped with a combination of olive oil and an herb mixture called Za’atar. The recipe for za’atar is variable, but frequently includes thyme and sumac. Za’atar goes with everything. Try rubbing it on chicken before you bake it. I combined it with black olives earlier in the week. Tasty. Very tasty.

Za'atar Bread

I made these using refrigerated pizza dough. I just rolled the dough into little balls, let it sit for a while and then topped them with an olive oil-za’atar mixture before putting them into a 350 degree oven. They came out 20 minutes later.

The bean dish was pretty easy, too. Equal parts olive oil and lemon juice, cumin and coriander, salt and pepper. Open a can of fava beans (known as Ful in Middle Eastern groceries) and stir it in, then let it sit for a while. Meanwhile, hard-boil and peel some eggs and chop a few tablespoons of fresh cilantro.

Fava Beans, Hard-Boiled Eggs and Chopped Cilantro

Chop up the eggs and combine them with the marinated beans. Then sprinkle on the cilantro. Enjoy with pita bread, or with the za’atar bread. Awesome, and beautiful in the dish. I’m told variations of this dish are frequently served for breakfast in Egypt.


We had a wonderful dinner, with the above recipes plus black olives with za’atar, red-leaf lettuce, marinated chickpeas and lentil soup with rice. Comfort food at its tasty best. Here’s the cookbook:

From The Lands of Figs and Olives

My copy came in the mail today. I went onto and paid all of $6.00 for a used, good-condition copy. I haven’t had a bad recipe from this book yet. Thank you, Habib and James!


Writer, Walker, Entrepreneur, baby-boomer

6 thoughts on “Enter Through the Middle East

  1. I wish I lived in your house Margy – you are always cooking such yummy things! So windy here yesterday that the National Christmas tree was blown over – I didn’t go outside all day and there were times it sounded like our skylights were being ripped off the roof.

    1. You, too, huh? It’s a little better today, but still bitter cold Sometimes the weather can be terrifying. You should treat yourself to good food whenever you can, no matter where it comes from. It pays to take care of yourself, particularly in weather like this.

  2. Brrr! My Mom said you were having some really cold weather there and there had been some hail, too. Your meals sound wonderful. What a great cookbook. I hope these wonderful recipes will sustain you until spring.

  3. I made these [za’atar bread] using refrigerated pizza dough.

    Excellent! I like to make my own pizza dough in our bread machine (this way I can get a nice 50% whole wheat dough). I suppose it would also work as a flatbread, cut into slices? It could be an interesting addition/substitute for a rosemary/fig foccacia I’ve made in the past.

    The bean dish was pretty easy, too. Equal parts olive oil and lemon juice, cumin and coriander, salt and pepper. Open a can of fava beans…

    I have many of these ingredients on-hand, and both fava and garbanzo (as chickpeas are also known) beans are easy for me to get in Latin American markets, or in the can.

    Now I shall have to look for a za’atar recipe.

    1. Hooray! I used 1/2 cup each olive oil and lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp each coriander and cumin. I’m sure you can find za’atar recipes on the internet. It might be spelled zatar or zaatar.

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