This is simple food at its best. A traditional peasant dish, quite popular in the olive growing regions of Lebanon. My kids love zucchinis cooked like this, and that’s because being quite a bland vegetable, zucchinis get to really soak up and absorb this rich tomato sauce.
This dish uses only three main ingredients, and these traditional dishes are referred to in Lebanon as be-zeyt, literal meaning is cooked with oil, which in fact was the expression to what is now referred to as “Vegetarian”. To be exact, these dishes are also mainly “Vegan”, and existed a long time ago in the Eastern Mediterranean diet, way before these modern day terms were invented.
My grandmother’s generation, and also my parents up until I was a teenager, only consumed fresh vegetables when in season. Therefore this dish was a summer dish, and it is best eaten at room temperature. The flavours really come out when it’s not too hot.
This recipe is the base for many dishes, vegetables such as okra, eggplant and green beans are cooked in a similar way and used in place of the zucchinis.
Serves 4-6 people
preparation 15 min
cooking time around 45 min
6 medium size grey/Lebanese zucchini
4 medium size onions
4 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
6-8 table-spoons of olive oil
1/4 tea-spoon black pepper
1/2 tea-spoon sea salt
Peel and slice onions diagonally into wedges, and place on medium heat in a wide base pot, add olive oil and pan fry until golden. Discard top and bottom of zucchinis, wash and dice into around 1-2cm cubes. Add on top of onions. Peel garlic and slice each clove into 3 to 4 pieces. Add zucchinis and garlic to pot on top of onions, and stir everything until zucchinis start to change colour and soften.
Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Let it simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes, or until sauce is thick and a deep red colour. The thicker and richer the sauce, the more tasty is the dish, please do not serve it with the sauce still runny. Test it for salt and pepper and adjust to taste. Place in a bowl and let it cool before serving it with flat Lebanese bread on the side.