I am no stranger to Middle Eastern food though many Moroccan “foodies” would argue that Moroccan food isn’t Middle Eastern food. I would tend to agree with that. This recipe is a great example of just how true that is. I am participating with several other food bloggers taking part in a virtual potluck using the recipes from Faith Gorsky’s, An Edible Mosaic. Faith’s story is a lot like my own. Her contact with Middle Eastern food didn’t really exist until she met her husband. It was through his family she learned how to make the cuisine. I am hoping to interview Faith in the future to talk a bit more about this phenomenon! But, back to the recipe today.
This is a really hearty Meat and Vegetable Casserole that includes pomegranate syrup as a secret ingredient. The taste reminds me a lot of a beef bourignon with the addition of the pomegranate taking the place of wine. I altered the cooking directions a bit, opting to cook and finish this on the stovetop instead of in the oven as was detailed in the directions. We served it over rice and it was very good. MarocBaba tossed some hot pepper flakes on top too and was happy. I think this is a great recipe by itself and also is easily altered to make new dishes! Here’s what Faith has to say about it.
This casserole is a wonderful example of classic Syrian cuisine: it celebrates the flavors of the freshest, best-quality ingredients you can find. The simple ingredients found in Syrian dishes are usually prepared very simply, but are paired so perfectly that the dish comes together to be so much greater than the sum of its parts. Looking at the humble ingredient list for this dish, you’ll notice that it’s mostly a plethora of vegetables, but if you make sure to use the freshest veggies you can find you’ll be surprised at how delicious the end result is.
And there is a secret ingredient that adds a balanced sweet/tart flavor and deep complexity to the dish: pomegranate molasses! This is just pomegranate juice that has been reduced to a thick, sweet, and tangy syrup, but its flavor is irreplaceably unique. It’s the ingredient that makes this casserole unforgettable, and will have people guessing for hours what your secret was.
If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, it can be made at home very easily by simmering down pomegranate juice (about 4 cups/1 liter of juice will yield about 1/2 cup of molasses); store the molasses in a lidded glass jar in the fridge and it should keep for months.
If you’re interested in checking out Faith’s book you can pick it up online. I think An Edible Mosaic is a great cookbook for someone with limited exposure to Middle Eastern cooking or someone who has many years of experience! To see what some of the other bloggers are making be sure to visit Kitchen Play!
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions diced
- 1 lb lean ground lamb or beef
- 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
- 1/3 tsp black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb tomatoes peeled and diced
- 1 lb potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 lb squash, zucchini or eggplant cubed (peel eggplant if using)
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 bunch fresh parsley leaves minced
- Flatbread or Araic Style Rice for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion and saute stirring occasionally. Add the meat, 1 tsp salt, and the pepper; turn the heat up to high and cook until the meat is fully browned and the onion is tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and using a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Add the garlic and tomato and cook 5 minutes more.
- Transfer the meat mixture to a medium sized casserole dish along with the potato and squash, zucchini or eggplant, stir to combine.
- Whisk together the tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, water, and remaining salt in a small bowl; drizzle on top of the casserole.
- Cover the casserole dish and bake until the veggies are tender, about 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes.
- Stir in the fresh parsley leaves and serve with Arabic flatbread or Rice. f
This recipe was reprinted from An Edible Mosaic by Faith Gorsky with the permission of the publisher.
Want to see what the other bloggers are cooking up?
Spinach Turnovers from Lana of Bibberche
Falafel from Heather of Kitchen Concoctions
Middle Eastern Scrambled Eggs with Meat and Onion from Laura of The Spiced Life
Coconut Semolina Cake from Stephanie of 52 Kitchen Adventures
Date-Filled Cookies from Jennifer of Savory Simple