A Lebanese Pantry used for a 5:2 Diet recipe:
OK, I’ll admit there’s a bit of calculated cooking going on here. I’ve been intending to enter Bethady Kedy’s competition to win a trip to The Lebanon for a while, and I needed to blog about something Lebanese as part of my entry. But, I’m also trying my best to get back to the 5:2 diet (a simple version of alternate day fasting or ADF) after my trip to Tuscany!
Now, despite having spent time in my teens in Saudi and Libya where my parents were living, I know very little about food from the middle east. I have tried some of Bethady’s fabulous food at a Lebanese wine tasting. I’ve eaten in a few middle eastern restaurants in London and I’ve even tried to make a complicated dish called Khoresht Fensenjan – with chicken, walnuts and pomegranate molasses which I believe is eaten in The Lebanon as well as Iran. While it was nice, it hardly seemed appropriate as a 5:2 diet dish.
So, what I’ve done is created a dish based on some of the ingredients I believe are common in a Lebanese pantry. Mint and flat-leaved parsley, a wonderful spice mix called za’atar, lemon, tomato, olive oil, aubergine and chickpeas. I deliberately kept the amount of olive oil right down and steamed the aubergine, because I wanted the dish to be low calorie. And, I have to say, I was really pleased with the result! za’atar is a fabulous spice mix that you can use to sprinkle on aubergines (eggplant) tomatoes, onions and more to make roasted Mediterranean vegetables. It is based on a spice called Sumac, together with thyme and sesame seeds.
- 4 Large Vine tomatoes or substitute a can of chopped tomatoes
- 400 g Chicken Breast 3-4 breasts cut into cubes
- 1 Onion
- 200 ml Chicken Stock I used e-cuisine chicken stock
- 1 Aubergine
- 1 can Chickpeas (300g drained weight. Or use dried and reconstitute according to the packet
- 300 g Spinach
- 1 Lemon
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Za'atar
- 1 handful Fresh Mint
- 1 handful Fresh Flat Leaved Parsley
- Chop the aubergine into 2cm cubes and place in a large square of foil. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle over half the Za'atar.
- Seal the foil parcel and cook the aubergine in the oven at 160c for 20-30 mins
- Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion, peel and chop the tomatoes (or grate) and juice the lemon
- When the aubergine is cooked, gently stew the onion in the remaining oil for 10 minutes before raising the heat, adding the chicken and remaining Za'atar and sealing the meat. Leave the aubergine in its foil parcel so it continues to steam gently
- Add the stock, lemon juice and tomato and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add a good pinch of salt, the aubergine and chickpeas and cook for a further 10 minutes
- Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary then add the spinach and cook till wilted. The photo is a midway point, you want all the leaves to have wilted down
- Serve in bowls and add the fresh herbs if you are using them.
Is this dish in any way authentic? – well if so it’s entirely by chance. But, it is very good, very simple to make and for a portion based on 100g of chicken and 75g of chickpeas, it is around 340 calories if you keep the olive oil down. If you are not dieting, I’d probably use a bit more oil and fry the aubergine rather than baking it, but that would really not make a suitable dish for the 5:2 diet. And, I ate mine last night without any rice or couscous, but if you want a more substantial meal it would be good with Lebanese flatbreads and salad and perhaps a little rice or couscous too.
So I am back on track with the 5:2 diet after my indulgences in Tuscany. And looking forward to trying out some new low calorie 5:2 diet recipes and sharing with you.
Meanwhile, if you want to save this recipe for later, why not pin it now