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Rice & Vegetable – Part 2


Warm Red Lentils with Spinach

This spiced, earthy salad is freshened up by the addition of mint and cilantro leaves. It goes particularly well with Pomegranate Salad with Herbs & Pistachios.

PREP : 25 minutes
COOK : 30 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1½ cups red lentils
  • 3 cups hot vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon hazelnut oil
  • 5½ ounces soft goat cheese
  • ¼ cup Greek-style plain yogurt
  • pinch of pepper
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils, then add the broth, a ladleful at a time, simmering and stirring occasionally until each ladleful has been absorbed before adding the next one; this will take about 20 minutes in total. Remove from the heat, then stir in the mint and cilantro.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium–low heat. Add the red onions and cook for 10 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned, stirring often.
  3. Put the baby spinach and hazelnut oil in a bowl and toss gently. Divide among four shallow bowls.
  4. Put the goat cheese and yogurt into a small bowl, season with pepper, then mash.
  5. Spoon the lentils onto the spinach, top with the onions, then spoon on the goat cheese and yogurt and serve.

Cook’s tip : It’s important not to overcook lentils for a salad, because they should have some bite.


Spiced Vegetable & Halloumi Skewers

These spiced skewers make a great vegetarian option for barbecues and are perfect for a crowd. Consider serving them with a pile of flatbreads, Greek-style plain yogurt, Tahini Sauce, and Rose Harissa for people to create their own wraps. You will need 16 wooden skewers for this recipe.

PREP : 25 minutes
COOK : 30 minutes

  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered, depending on size
  • 9 ounces halloumi or queso para freir, cut into ⅝-inch cubes
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into ¾-inch chunks
  • 3 cups (about 1 pound) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes, plus a large pinch
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Soak 16 wooden skewers in water for 20 minutes, then drain well.
  2. Put the mushrooms, halloumi, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl and toss well. Add the ras el hanout, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the oil and toss again.
  3. Thread the vegetables and halloumi onto the skewers in any combination, then place them on two large baking sheets. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and serve two skewers per person.

Cook’s tip : If you prefer, assemble the skewers in advance, and let them marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator before cooking.


Moroccan Chicken with Rice

Capture the flavors and colors of Morocco with this spicy brown rice salad flecked with jewel-like dried apricots and glistening raisins and tossed with health-boosting kale.

PREP : 15 minutes
COOK : 35 minutes

  • 1½ cups quick-cooking brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ½ preserved lemon, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1¼ cups shredded kale
  • Dressing
  • 2 teaspoons rose harissa
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  1. Put the rice into a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Bring back to a boil, then simmer for 25–30 minutes, or until just tender. Drain, then transfer to a salad bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, for the dressing, put the harissa, oil, and lemon juice in a screw-top jar and season with the salt and pepper. Screw on the lid and shake well.
  3. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the dressing into a bowl and mix in the tomato paste. Preheat the broiler to high and line the grill pan with aluminum foil. Put the chicken on the foil in a single layer. Brush some of the tomato dressing over it, then broil for 15–18 minutes, or until golden and cooked through, turning and brushing with the remaining tomato dressing halfway through. Cut through the middle of a breast to check that the meat is no longer pink. Any juices that run out should be clear and piping hot with steam rising. Cover and let cool.
  4. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the rice. Add the dried apricots, raisins, preserved lemon, and red onion, then toss and let cool. Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat for 2–3 minutes. Blanch the kale for 2–3 minutes. Add the pine nuts and kale to the salad and stir. Thinly slice the chicken, arrange it over the salad, and serve.

Cook’s tip : Try to find unsulfured (dark) dried apricots instead of the sulfured (bright orange) ones, because they are more natural and fruity tasting.



This North African breakfast of eggs baked in fiery spiced bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic is popular throughout the Middle East. Serve it as a breakfast, or with a pile of flatbreads as a light dinner.

PREP : 20 minutes
COOK : 45 minutes

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes, plus a pinch
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 pinches of pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons za’atar spice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over low heat. Add the cumin and cook for 1–2 minutes, or until aromatic. Add the red onions, garlic, chile, and 1 teaspoon of salt and sauté for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring often.
  2. Add the red bell peppers and increase the heat to medium. Sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, make four deep egg-size indentations in the sauce, then crack an egg into each one. Sprinkle the za’atar over the eggs and sauce.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until just set. Sprinkle with the remaining pinch of pepper and serve hot.

Cook’s tip : Keep an eye on the Shakshouka as it cooks and take it out of the oven when the eggs are done to your preference—for well-done eggs, it may need to be baked for up to 15 minutes.


Chickpea, Halloumi, Red Onion & Cilantro Salad

This summery salad tastes best served immediately, with the halloumi still hot from the pan. It can also be prepared a few hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator, then brought back to room temperature before serving. It’s best eaten the day it’s made, because the halloumi tends to lose its flavor if it sits in a salad for too long.

PREP : 10 minutes
COOK : 12 minutes

  • 8 ounces halloumi, sliced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas in water, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1½ lemons
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)
  • pinch of pepper (optional)
  1. Heat a ridged grill pan or heavy skillet over high heat until smoking hot. Working in batches, cook the halloumi in the dry pan for 4–6 minutes, or until charred, golden, and crispy in places, turning halfway through. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly, then cut into ½-inch cubes.
  2. Mix together the halloumi, chickpeas, red onion, cilantro, lemon juice, and oil in a large salad bowl. Mix in the salt and pepper, if using, then serve immediately.

Cook’s tips : Try this salad with Classic Tabbouleh. If you are struggling to find halloumi, you can try queso para freir from a nearby Mexican grocery store.

Authentic dishes from the Middle East

Rukmini Lyer