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More than Mezze: Lunch from Lebanon

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Soup, salad and a dip… exactly what you need for a luxuriant light lunch, fresh from Lebanon. Serve at home with flatbread

Sopa de Guisantes
Serves 4

• 4tbsp olive oil
• ½ medium onion, finely chopped
• 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 150g cured ham, finely chopped
• 1 small bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped
• 1ltr chicken stock
• 500g peas, fresh or frozen
• 2tbsp butter

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat, add the onion and when it has turned golden add the carrot and bay leaves. Continue to fry for 5 minutes stirring occasionally, then add the garlic, two thirds of the ham and half the mint. Fry gently for 3 minutes, before adding the stock and then the peas. Stir in a knob of butter. Simmer gently until the peas are tender about 5 minutes. Blitz the peas and stock in a liquidiser until smooth. Return to the pan, season and garnish with the remaining ham and mint.

Serves 4

• 2 pitta bread
• 25g butter
• 1 garlic clove
• 1 lemon
• 1tsp za’tar, ground
• 5tbsp olive oil
• ½ large cucumber, sliced
• 12 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1 small lettuce, chopped
• 1 spring onion, finely chopped
• 6 radishes, cut into quarters
• 1 celery stick, chopped
• 1 small bunch each fresh mint and parsley

To make the crispbread, slice open the pittas and brush with melted butter on both sides. Bake the pitta halves for about 15 minutes at 180ºC. Leave to cool. To make the dressing, combine the garlic (crushed to a paste with ½tsp salt and the juice of 1 lemon), the ground za’tar (or thyme) and the olive oil. About 8 minutes before you are ready to serve the salad, combine the crispbread, vegetables and chopped herbs in a large salad bowl, breaking up the crispbread in your hands as you go. The crispbread pieces should be about the same size as the chopped vegetables. Now add the dressing and toss well. Season and add more lemon juice to taste.

Baba Ghanoush
Serves 4 to 6

• 3 large aubergines (750g to 1kg)
• 2 garlic cloves
• 1 lemon
• 3tbsp tahini paste
• 4tbsp olive oil

Pierce the skins of the aubergines and grill whole over a hot barbeque, directly on the naked flame of a gas hob or under the grill until the skin is charred and crispy all over and the flesh is very soft. Leave to cool. Discard the tops and peel off the skin. Place the flesh and any juices in a large mixing bowl and whisk until almost smooth. Next, crush the garlic to a paste with 1tsp salt and the juice of 1 lemon. Add the garlic paste, tahini and olive oil to the aubergines and season to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley or pomegranate seeds.

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