A Lebanese Inspired Thanksgiving Celebration

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  Hope you did as well!

Our meal was quite traditional — inspired by the recipes from The Pioneer Woman. Her brined roasted turkey and yukon gold mashed potatoes were a big hit! After all, that’s one of reasons Ree won the Thanksgiving Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

Before the meal, we enjoyed these fantastic Mediterranean-style deviled eggs that my brother-in-law Ziad made.  These olive-studded deviled eggs are a tradition in the Shuman house and I would highly recommend! You won’t find any mayonnaise in these eggs, instead you add a squirt of yellow mustard to the mashed yolks along with chopped green olives with pimientos (Ziad used Goya brand) and moisten with some of the olive juice.  I liked how he put the yolk mixture in a large ziploc bag to transport to our house, and then cut off a corner to squirt into the cooked egg whites. Once all two dozen eggs were filled, he sprinkled with smoked paprika.  Delicious!


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Thanksgiving day was all-American, but the day after belonged to Lebanon. No Black Friday shopping for us. Instead, we spent the day making all sorts of Lebanese dishes.  My father-in-law Tarek spotted some leftover fresh thyme that I had used in my stuffing and had an idea to make one of his favorite appetizers:  fresh thyme or zaatar salad.  In Lebanon, you’ll find larger leaf thyme or zaatar that’s often served as a salad, much like fattoush or rocca salad (similar to arugula).  But here in the U.S., the smaller sprigs of thyme are more common, which make it ideal for the appetizer.

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To make the fresh thyme appetizer, you’ll need 1 bunch of fresh thyme, 1-2 green onions, 1 lemon, olive oil and pomegranate molasses or syrup — which I’ve written about before and you just have to buy!  Some times Whole Foods will carry this Lebanese staple, but they’ve been frequently out of stock.  You might find in some of the larger supermarkets (Middle Eastern section), otherwise, you’ll need to visit a Middle Eastern market, order it online or make your own with pomegranate juice.  Here’s a recipe from Alton Brown that’s worth trying.  We’re lucky to have several great Lebanese markets here in Chicago where I buy pomegranate molasses — which has become quite the trendy ingredient.  My husband predicts it’s the new balsamic vinegar. Just you wait.

Here’s what you do: Strip off the leaves of thyme sprigs and chop, slice the green onions and add, toss in a dressing made with fresh lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Scoop up with pita bread. It’s such a bright, refreshing flavor – quite unique to anything else.  You can make it without pomegranate syrup, but I think it’s a defining flavor, so I highly recommend!

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Our mezze included spinach pies and cheese manoushe, that we picked up at Sanabel Bakery on Kedzie Street in Chicago.

IMG_0936Lebanese spiced lamb pizza lahm bi ajeen

IMG_0943that we cut into slices like pizza.

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Our dinner featured grilled chicken wings marinated in a garlicky lemon juice and olive oil mixture with lots of sumac. The wings were served with toum, a Lebanese garlic sauce that’s as common as ketchup in the U.S.  We also made tabouli and hummus, of course.

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My nephew Kareem loves to make what his dad calls a Lebanese taco — a romaine lettuce leaf spread with hummus and topped with tabouli.  It was a rather nice creation I must admit.

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What a wonderful blend of cultures during this American holiday.

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