Recipes for Book Club Get-Togethers
All sorrows are less with bread. --Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Welcome, my dear readers, to the food section.  If you’ve found your way here, it’s probably because you have a hankering for some good ol’ Middle Eastern food, to quiet those pesky stomach growls while you read Eve.

And you’re in luck, because I’ve received permission to reprint one recipe here, from Faye Levy’s book called Feast from the Mideast: 250 Sun-Drenched Dishes from the Lands of the Bible. It’s the best match to Eve’s setting and environment that I’ve been able to find.

I’ve provided links to all other recipes listed.  Feel free to peruse and use.

**In the selection below, I’ve tried to take into consideration both meat-lovers and vegetarians.


Hummus (Chickpea Dip with Parsley and Pine Nuts)
Ginger-Garlic Hummus
Black Bean Hummus
Hummus with Yogurt and Lemon
Eggplant Hummus


Basic Tabbouleh
Lebanese Tabbouleh
Melon and Mint Tabbouleh
Tomato and Mint Salad with Pomegranate Dressing
Chopped Arabic Salad
Tomato, Cucumber, and Pita Salad
Bulgur and Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Tomatoes, Onions, and Pomegranate Dressing
Grilled Zucchini and Bell Pepper Fattoush
Chopped Vegetable, Watermelon, and Feta Salad
Middle Eastern Diced Salad [**see below for full recipe]


Yellow Lentil Soup
Curried Peanut and Tomato Soup
Vegetable Stew with Couscous
Chicken Soup with Lemon (Hamud)
Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew

Fish & Seafood

Mint-Marinated Shrimp with Tabbouleh, Tomatoes, and Feta


Chicken Breasts with Pistachio-Cilantro Pesto
Chicken Tahini Salad with Pine Nuts on Mini Pita Rounds
Middle Eastern Grilled Chicken Pita Sandwiches with Yogurt Mint Sauce
Chicken with Lemon, Cumin, and Mint
Orange Chicken with Golden Raisins and Figs

Beef & Lamb

Middle Eastern Sesame Lamb Meatballs with Minted Yogurt Dip
Grilled Ground Lamb Kebabs with Fresh Hot-Pepper Paste
Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs
Turkish Lamb Pitas with Tomato Sauce
Black Pepper Braised Lamb Shanks
Kebab with Yogurt (Kebab Bel Laban)


Zucchini Köfte with Beet-Bulgur Pilaf (vegetarian Middle Eastern meatballs)
Grilled Marinated Tempeh Steak with Avocado, Radicchio, Orange Dressing, and Tahini


Couscous with Golden Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Green Onions
Jeweled Rice with Dried Fruit
Persian Rice with Pistachios and Dill

Vegetables & Beans & Eggs

My Favorite Falafel (Chickpea Fritter)
Falafel with Cilantro Yogurt in Pita Bread
Turkish Poached Eggs with Yogurt and Spicy Sage Butter
Sweet Cardamom Carrots (Helawat al Jazr)


Grilled Flatbreads with Za’atar
Barley Bread
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Olive Oil Crackers


Toasted-Almond Cake with Strawberries in Rose-Water Syrup
Pistachio Cake
Cardamom Yogurt Pudding with Orange and Cinnamon Honey Syrup
Bread Baked with Honey and Cream
Olive Oil Couscous Cake with Crème Fraîche and Date Syrup
Dates with Sesame Seeds (Tumr Bel Simsim)
Mamool Cookies

Teas & Refreshing Drinks

Hot Tea with Cardamom and Cinnamon
Anis-Ginger Tea
Middle Eastern Lemonade
Pomegranate Drink

Middle Eastern Diced Salad

Salata Khodra

Excerpted from Feast from the Mideast © Copyright 2003 by Faye Levy.  Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins.  All rights reserved.  No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

This lively, colorful blend of finely diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion is the most frequently prepared salad in the Mideast.  It is known among my relatives as Israeli salad and among my Lebanese friends as Lebanese salad.  My Iranian neighbors see it as their own as well.  To them it is Shirazi salad, named for Shiraz in southwestern Iran.  All around the region people love it and if they ask for salad, this is what they mean.  It’s served as an appetizer, often together with other salads, or as an accompaniment for any main course.

The salad is most delicious with its traditional dressing of olive or vegetable oil and fresh lemon juice.  It’s so good when made with quality vegetables that you can get by with very little dressing, or even, for days after too much feasting, none at all.  The salad is at its best and prettiest if you cut the cucumbers and tomatoes in small cubes, preferably three eighths inch and no larger than half inch.  Usually the cucumbers are peeled, but I don’t peel the thin-skinned Middle Eastern variety.

For the salad’s onion component, I like those that are not too sharp, like red or green onions.  Sweet white and yellow onions, often available in the spring and summer, are best.  If the onions are strong, I chop them and soak them for a few minutes in cold water.

You can make the salad a few hours ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.  If you’re making it in advance, the vegetables keep their texture better if you don’t add the salt or lemon juice until right before serving.

The cucumber-tomato-onion trio is standard, usually with Italian parsley added, but there are variations.  Lebanese and Armenian cooks like mint or purslane.  Some cooks flavor their dressing with garlic.  One of our Yemenite relatives adds a teaspoonful of her fiery green zehug, or Yemenite hot sauce.  Israelis and Palestinians might sprinkle the salad with zahtar (see variation below).  For a creamy dressing, some people use yogurt or tahini.

Depending on the season, radishes, sweet red, green, or yellow peppers, mild Anaheim chilies, romaine strips, or shredded green or red cabbage might be added.  Sometimes the salad is enriched with cubes of feta cheese or crumbled spicy shanklish cheese or a few flavorful black or green olives.

Makes 4 servings.

3 Middle Eastern or pickling (Kirby) cucumbers, 1/2 hothouse cucumber, or 1 Japanese or American cucumber
1/3 or 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
8 ripe but firm plum tomatoes, or 4 medium tomatoes, cut in small dice
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
1 to 2 tablespoons strained fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel cucumbers if you like and cut in small dice, no larger than 1/2 inch.  If using yellow or white onion and it smells very strong, rinse the chopped onion with cold water, drain, and pat it dry.

In glass bowl, mix together diced cucumbers, tomato, onion, and parsley.  Add oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Variation: Israeli Salad with Zahtar

Sprinkle the salad with 2 to 3 teaspoons zahtar, the herb-and-sesame seed blend that you can purchase at Middle Eastern shops.  If you don’t have it, toast 2 teaspoons sesame seeds and let cool.  Mix with 1 teaspoon dried thyme and sprinkle the mixture over the salad.