As the weather has started to cool down, I find myself turning more to preparing soups and stews for dinner. Particularly Lebanese stews, which are flavorful and hearty, and have always been some of my favorite meals growing up. No matter what the main ingredient is, I can eat the leftovers for a week and not get sick of it. They are that good! If you saw our post on the Lebanese Beef and Potato Stew, you’ll notice that this recipe is very similar. The only difference is that the star of this dish is sweet, golden-fried cauliflower or arnabeet and the broth is much tangier due to the extra lemon juice. I hadn’t made this recipe in a while but when I saw large cauliflower on sale at the local market, I decided it was time for this stew to make a reappearance on our table and an appearance on this blog as I continue to share our favorite family dishes. I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do 🙂
Lebanese Cauliflower Stew
2 large cauliflower heads
1.5 lbs beef stew chunks
8-10 cups water*
2 small bunches cilantro
1 garlic head, peeled
Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
*I am very liberal when it comes to the amount of water I use in preparing the broth because I end up skimming a lot so naturally it gets reduced and concentrated as time passes.
- Thoroughly wash your cauliflower and cut them into medium-large florets. The smaller you cut them the more they break up in the stew and you definitely want some cauliflower bites.
- In a large stockpot, bring the beef stew chunks and water to a boil and then let simmer, skimming the fat and impurities continuously until the broth is clean. Once the broth is clean, reduce the heat, cover and let simmer until the meat is tender (about 2 hours).
- In a food processor, pulse the cilantro and peeled garlic until you have a rough paste. 1/2 of this will go directly into the clean broth. The other half you will save for step 6.
- In the meantime, prepare a pot for frying and a tray for draining the oil (paper towel works just fine).
- Once the oil is hot, begin frying the cauliflower in batches until they are a beautiful golden brown. Salt them as they come out and let them drain from any excess oil.
- Prepare a pan with a bit of vegetable oil and sauté the other half of the cilantro-garlic paste until fragrant. Do not let them burn. Fish out the beef stew chunks from the broth and toss in the pan with the sautéed cilantro-garlic paste. Once browned, return to the stock pot.
- Transfer your cauliflower into the broth and let simmer for another 30-45 minutes until the cauliflower are tender.
- Season the stew with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to your liking. The broth should have a mellow sweetness from the cauliflower and a vibrant kick from the lemon, garlic, and cilantro combination.
- Serve with a side of basmati rice and fresh crunchy radishes.
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If you live in the Midwest, you know that springtime isn’t all sunshine and butterflies. We have plenty of gray days that can feel like winter and sometimes all we want to do is curl up in a blanket with a hearty bowl of something and pray that 70 degree weather is right around the corner. This recipe is perfect for just those days. It’s personally one of my favorite Lebanese stews (or yakhnis) growing up and it’s super easy to make. However, this isn’t your average beef and potato stew. What makes this stew especially delicious is the flavor profile offered by a paste of fresh garlic and cilantro. This base, which is a feature of most Lebanese stews, makes for a uniquely savory broth that you will just have to try to understand. So if you’re looking to make a stew but want to try something new (ha! I rhymed!) this will not disappoint!
Lebanese Beef and Potato Stew
1.5 pounds of beef stew cubes
1 head of garlic
1 bunch of cilantro (plus some for garnishing)
3 pounds of potatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Lemon juice (1 large lemon)
8 cups of water
Note: My recipes serve at least 4 people. While we are only 2 and a baby, I make enough of a meal to last a few days. I cannot stress how convenient it is to have a home-cooked meal without having to prep everyday when you’re juggling a million other things.
- In a stock pot, bring your 8 cups of water to boil. In the meantime, make your garlic-cilantro paste by pulsing the cilantro and peeled garlic head (8-12 cloves) in a food processor. You will use this paste to flavor 3 different components of the stew:the meat, the broth, and the potatoes.
- Drizzle a bit of vegetable oil in a large skillet and add in 1/3 of your garlic-cilantro paste. Sauté for 1 minute until you smell the aroma of the cilantro and garlic. Be careful not to burn the paste.
- To the sautéed garlic-cilantro paste, add in your beef cubes, some salt and pepper to taste, and let brown on all sides.
- By now, your water should be boiling. Toss your browned and flavored beef cubes with another 1/3 the garlic-cilantro paste into the stock pot and allow to simmer on low for 2 hours or until your meat is very tender and the broth is flavorful.
- In the meantime, peel, rinse and cube your potatoes.
- Repeat step 2 with the remainder of the paste this time adding your cubed potatoes and browning them on all sides but not fully cooking them. Now toss the herbed potatoes into the finished broth and stir well.
- Mix in your tomato paste, lemon juice, and any salt and pepper then cover and cook on medium heat until the potatoes are nice and tender. I do this immediately after I add the potatoes in so that I’m not stirring and mushing the potatoes once they are cooked.
- Once your potatoes are fully cooked, ladle a generous serving of meat, potato and hearty broth into a bowl, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve with a side of buttery rice, lemon wedges, and crunchy radishes.
Note: I grew up learning to make this stew by deep-frying the potato cubes and then sautéing them with garlic and cilantro. My dad will tell you that if it’s not made this way, it’s not authentic. And while it is super tasty made that way, the stew is just as tasty without frying. Whether you decide to bake, deep-fry, or sauté your potatoes, just make sure to add them in near the end when your meat is tender and your broth is richly flavored. If you add them in too early, they will turn to mush and you don’t want that to happen. Trust me.
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