DIY: Homemade Lebanese Pickled Turnips

Last time my mom visited me, I learned how to make the simple Lebanese pickles that I love: just cucumbers, vinegar, salt, and garlic.

This time around, I wanted to take it to the next level by learning how to make delicious Lebanese pickled turnips (“lefet”). It’s so easy, and so worth it. Should take 20-30 minute tops! A perfect project for a rainy afternoon that will feel so satisfying. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 4 large turnips
  • 1 small beet
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • One loaf of pita bread
  • 1.5 tsp sugar, heaping
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tbsp rock salt, heaping
  • 1 Large jar, about 2 qt.

Instructions

1. Place a layer of pita bread at the bottom of the jar. This should cover the base.

2. Pour 1 tsp of sugar over the bread.

3. Peel and cut one beet in half, then quarter that half. Place one piece on the bread and sugar, and save one piece for later. Add 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar into the jar.

4. Peel and slice the turnips.  You want thin slices that aren’t too large. Place the turnips in a wide pan.

5. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water and 4 tbsp of rock salt to a boil. As the water begins to get hot, stir the salt until it melts completely.

6. Pour the water over the turnips. Make sure all the pieces are in the water. Let the, rest in the hot water for a minute or two.

7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the turnip pieces to the jar. Press down with the spoon so they’re compact and you can add more.

8. Pour the hot water into the jar to cover the turnips completely. Press down again to make sure it’s compact. Discard any water remaining.

9. Add the second beet piece on top of the turnips, and press it down with a wooden spoon. Watch with delight as the water begins to turn pink.

Around 15 minutes after sealing the jar
A little less than two hours after sealing the jar

10. Seal the jar and wait 10-12 days keeping it at room temperature before opening it again. Refrigerate after opening.

 

Here’s my family’s recipe for the perfect cucumber pickles.

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Simple Okra Vegetarian Recipe

I’ve been seeing okra in the supermarket a lot over the past few weeks, and I’ve been remembering and craving a favorite dish from growing up in Lebanon. I called up my mom and dad for instructions on how to make Bamieh (okra) with tomatoes, onion, and garlic. I love the texture (though you have to be careful in prep to avoid too much goo from the pods, see the video below). Even though this is a vegetarian dish, it is super filling. I made a huge batch on Friday afternoon and used it all weekend, alternating as a side dish with some grilled chicken and as a main meal.

The okra I remember eating as a child was much smaller than the ones I found in markets here. So I had to adjust the cook time for these larger pods. It’s a very simple recipe, but does need to simmer on the oven for about an hour in total, the perfect backdrop for reading in the evenings or if you have other work to do around the kitchen/stove.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb okra. Try to select smaller pods.
  • 1 whole garlic head
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large white onion
  • 5-6 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • Coarse salt
  • Black pepper
  • Ground allspice. (You can find this in most supermarkets in the spices section).

I actually recommend doubling this recipe. It’s almost the same amount of work, and it lasts for several meals.

Instructions

Slice the onion lengthwise into big chunks. Dice the 3 garlic cloves.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, remove only the outer peel of the garlic heads.

Put the chopped onion, diced garlic and whole garlic heads in the oil for about 5-7 minutes. Season with coarse salt and black pepper. Stir frequently.

Wash and dice the tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and allspice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally

While the tomatoes simmer, wash and trim the okra. This is a great short video on how to cut the pods without releasing the “slime” inside:

Either boil the okra (as in the video above), or pan-fry in olive oil on medium-high heat for 7 minutes, tossing often.

Add the okra to the tomato, onion and garlic sauce. Add 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp allspice, and 1 tsp coarse salt. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Then cover, and simmer for 10-15 more minutes. You want the okra to be quite soft.

Serve as a main meal or side dish. Let me know if you try it out!

Optional: As a kid, we’d eat it with whole wheat pita bread, scooping it into the bread pieces with our hands.

Here’s the recipe as a list without the photos. (Again I recommend doubling it!)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb okra. Try to select smaller pods.
  • 1 whole garlic head
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large white onion
  • 5-6 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • Coarse salt
  • Black pepper
  • Allspice

Instructions

  1. Slice the onion lengthwise into big chunks. Dice the 3 garlic cloves.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, remove only the outer peel of the garlic heads.
  4. Put the chopped onion, diced garlic and whole garlic heads in the oil for about 5-7 minutes. Season with coarse salt and black pepper. Stir frequently.
  5. Wash and dice the tomatoes.
  6. Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and allspice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally
  7. While the tomatoes simmer, wash and trim the okra. This is a great short video on how to cut the pods without releasing the “slime” inside: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2f3GGGolDXI
  8. Either boil the okra (as in the video above), or pan-fry in olive oil on medium-high heat for 7 minutes, tossing often.
  9. Add the okra to the tomato, onion and garlic sauce. Add tsp black pepper, 1 tsp allspice, and 1 tsp coarse salt. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Then cover, and simmer for 10-15 more minutes. You want the okra to be quite soft.