a lebanese lunch

I never had a long-standing plan to make a Lebanese feast. Despite enjoying so many of the dishes below at different times at home, or most of them together at at a lovely restaurant, I was never inclined to put on this spread–until I learned to make labneh. Labneh can be enjoyed countless ways, but as soon as the taste of my first batch passed my lips, this lunch sprang to mind. First it was the eggplant pesto. Having recently tasted a nutty eggplant spread, I crafted a recipe for it–something with a little more body than baba ghanoush to enjoy with the creamy labneh. I knew pita was required at the table, but wouldn’t have dreamed of making it at home before finding a recipe that promised it would be as easy as it actually was. Fattoush, tabbouleh and hummous were must-haves, of course, and the tomatoes I spiced and roasted especially with this new feast in mind. But rather than falafel, I wanted more of a “centrepiece” for this meal, and opted for a vegetarian kibbe (so excited to discover that exists!)

This is a lot of food, but my party of 6 made their way through most of it. The leftovers are better the next day–the fattoush won’t hold up well but that didn’t stop me from eating it, punchier than ever. Everything else is bolder a day later too. The labneh, eggplant spread and hummous can be made a day or two in advance. I think it’s equally suitable for colder days, since everything is full of spice or for lunch outdoors under the sun, passing salads, dips and maybe some olives around while you eat for hours.

a lebanese lunch (all the recipes you need, below)

labneh (lebanese cheese)
eggplant and walnut pesto
homemade pita
vegetarian kibbe
spicy roasted tomatoes

dessert: baklava (store-bought, i’ve never attempted this tricky treat at home)