Side Dishes

You are currently browsing the archive for the Side Dishes category.

This is a simple salad that works well as a side dish or as a starter, the beetroot itself, especially when it is freshly boiled, has a full sweetish flavour that is fulfilling, with no fat content. It has many other benefits, for example, it is a rich source of fibres and carbohydrates. In fact the pigment that gives the beetroot its red colour, possesses antioxidant properties which can help to fight some diseases. If you can, try to buy small bunches that have small tender leaves, because the leaves are also edible, in addition, they provide iron, foliate and beta-carotene.

At home, we used to combine vinegar with olive oil to make the dressing. In this recipe, I substituted the vinegar with the balsamic one and added a ½ tsp of sugar.  

If you like to know more about beetroot, here are two useful websites:


Serves 4


  • 2 small bunches of beetroot with leaves
  • A pinch of salt

For the dressing

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp sugar (optional)


Cut off the beetroot leaves, discarding any that are discoloured or tough, then wash thoroughly, drain excess water and dry.

Wash beetroots then transfer to a pan, wide enough to fit them, cover with plenty of water, add a pinch of salt and boil for about 30 minutes or until tender.

Once cooked, peel off the skin in a bowl of cool water, placing them as you finish on the cutting board. Slice the way you like, I normally quarter them, tip in a large salad bowl, then thinly shred the leaves. Add to the beetroot. 

Whisk thoroughly all the dressing ingredients and mix well with the beetroot mixture. Serve at once.


NB. If you think that the leaves are not as tender as you would like them to be, and you still want to add them to the beetroot, this is my suggestion: heat up about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the leaves as whole tossing frequently until they have just wilted. Divide between four serving plates and top with the dressed beetroot.

Traditionally, this dish is cooked with white short grain rice, but I put a twist on it and used wild rice. The nutty flavour of the wild rice simmering with the lentils makes a delicious combination. Either way, it’s a winner because it is versatile, you could have it as a starter, light lunch, or as a healthy vegan main course accompanied with bread salad (fattoush), you could also add it to the repertoire of your mezza dishes.

 Wilde rice takes longer to cook than white rice, about 40 minutes, that is why I cook it with the lentils. If you choose to use white rice, then add it 15 minutes before the finishing cooking time of the lentils.


Serves 4




  • 150 g / 5 oz green lentils.
  • 125 g / 4¾ oz  wild rice or 75 g / 3 oz white rice.
  • 750 ml / 1¼ pints water.
  • 100 ml / 3½ fl oz extra virgin olive oil.
  • 4 medium onions thinly sliced.
  • Seasoning: Salt & freshly milled black pepper + ½ tsp allspice.





    1. Tip lentils & wild rice into a medium-large sized pan. Cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Using a high heat, bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and let it simmer for 40 minutes or a little over, checking occasionally to check if it needs toping up with hot water.
    2. Meanwhile, heat up the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions. Fry stirring from time to time, until the onions reach a dark brown colour but not burnt. Remove half of the onions with a slotted spoon, and spread them on a kitchen paper, so they lose the excess fat and become crispy.
    3. At that stage the lentils-rice mixture should be cooked. The grains should feel tender and the water is absorbed, it should be moist but not dry, season. Stir in the remaining onions with their oil, cook for 1 minute. Switch off the heat, remove the lid and cover with a tea towel, let it stand for 5 – 7minutes, before dishing out.
    4. Sprinkle the crispy onions on top and serve with bread salad, cabbage salad, or pickled turnips. My favourite is my mother’s sauce: Lemon & Garlic Sauce, see recipe below. 

This is a relatively fast appetising dish that can be eaten hot, warm or cold and can be used as starter, light lunch or a side dish for it complements meat dishes. Any fresh green beans that are in season will do. I also tried it with fresh Runner Beans and it was delicious. A word of advice, avoid tinned tomatoes because they can spoil the taste, nothing can complement fresh tender beans better than fresh ripe tomatoes.


Serves 4




  • 500 g/ 1lb 2oz green beans any kind available in season
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 head of garlic: cloves peeled and chopped into chunky pieces
  • 450 g/ 1lb of ripe tomatoes skinned and chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree or less depending on how juicy the tomatoes are
  • Seasoning: salt and freshly milled black pepper




  1. Top, tail, string the beans then cut them into smallish pieces about 5cm / 2 inches, wash them in fresh water and keep aside.
  2. Heat up the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the chopped onion and sauté for a couple of minutes, stir in the chopped garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the prepared beans and stir them into the mixture, season with salt and generous freshly milled black pepper, cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Next, stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, cover and bring to the boil stirring once or twice then let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, by which time, the beans should be cooked and tomatoes have melted into a nice thick sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Serve in individual dishes, drizzle more extra virgin olive oil on top and eat with warm bread.

I prefer to use fresh Lebanese green thyme, it has long leaves, bigger than the lemon thyme that is commonly known in England. However, Lebanese thyme is only found in Lebanese stores during spring and summer. This is why I tried it with lemon thyme and it worked. Thyme salad makes an ideal appetiser, regardless of your eating habits, and guess what! It is very easy to make.


Serves 4




  • 1 bunch weighing 25 g / 1oz of lemon thyme, leaves picked washed and dried on a kitchen paper
  • 1 or 2 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Seasoning: salt to taste
  • ½ tsp sumac (optional)




1        Put thyme leaves and the chopped onions in a small salad bowl. Whisk lemon juice and olive oil, then toss into the thyme mixture. Season, taste and adjust if necessary.

2        Serve with Arabic bread or if you want to add a twist, thinly slice some Ciabatta bread, smear each piece with 1 generous tsp of the salad and enjoy with a well chilled drink.  

Although less fattening than those made from the potato, colocasia chips are equally delicious. Instead of frying the chips, as in the traditional way, I bake them as oven chips. Because of its high starch content, it is advisable to par-boil colocasia, so it becomes much easier to handle.

At home, we used to serve it with Garlic & Sumac dressing on the side, however, you can use whatever sauce you like. 


Serves: 2-3




·         550 g / 1 ¼ lb colocasia

·         1 ½ tbsp vegetable oil

·         Salt and freshly milled black pepper




·         1 fat clove of garlic peeled and crushed to a paste

·         2 tbsp lemon juice

·         4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

·         1 tsp sumac




  1. Wash the colocasia and brush away any earth. Peel the colocasia and slice into chunky chips. Rinse a couple of times with cold water to get rid of the excess starch. Put in a saucepan of water, bring to the boil and cook for six minutes. Drain off the water and dry on kitchen paper.
  2. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 190 °C / 375 °F, then pour the oil into the baking dish and pop it in the oven for five minutes.
  3. Next slide the dried chips gently into the hot oil, giving them a good coating. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper, pop into the oven for 15 minutes. Take them out and turn them over, bake for another 15 minutes, at this stage, they should reach a light golden colour.
  4. While you are waiting for the chips, simply mix the ingredients for the dressing.
  5. Drain excess fat onto kitchen paper and serve hot, with the dressing in the middle, dip each chip in and enjoy. 

Newer entries »