Syria: Pita bread, conchiglie with yogurt and peas, fattoush, freekah salad, labneh balls, root vegetables with labneh, harak osbao, mujadara, baklava
This was one of my favorite couch cuisine meals and a really special evening. I was inspired by Cook for Syria, a supper club that is “a celebration of Syrian cuisine in aid of the largest humanitarian crisis of our time.” Most of the recipes we used came from their great website. We collected money to donate to The White Helmets, a volunteer group of Syrians who act as first responders in the Syrian civil war. I was thrilled that 25 people joined for the meal. Josh took this wonderful picture of (some of) the group.
Emily co-hosted the meal with me, and it was wonderful to collaborate on menu planning, shopping, and cooking. Del spent hours helping with prep as well. Thanks, friends!
We had quite an extensive menu, and (spoiler alert) everything was delicious. Definitely one of my favorite meals in terms of food in addition to the meaning behind the evening and the lovely crowd.
The pita bread turned out really well and I didn’t need to use my backup plan of going to a local restaurant and ask them to sell me stacks of pita bread. It was so fun to make and I was giddy that it worked. There’s something about making bread that just thrills me.
Pile of pita!
Since we made so many dishes, I didn’t do the best job of documenting the prep for each dish. This conchiglie with yogurt, peas and chile dish was a hit, though I failed to take a picture of it. We made fattoush, which is refreshing and tasty.
Next up, green freekah salad. Freekah is nutty and smoky and this is a bright, fun salad and you can see just how pretty it is thanks to Josh’s photography skills.
Now, I’m about to go on a little tangent. I’m currently obsessed with labneh. Ob.sessed. I ate it at Cedar Mediterranean restaurant and immediately fell for the creamy, tangy delight of goodness. I needed lots of labneh for this meal, so when I discovered that the International Food Market sells many brands, I decided to get one of each and do a little taste test.
Emily and I had fun trying and rating each brand. This was my favorite.
We made labneh balls as an appetizer, and these were so easy and fun to make. We had a bunch of “toppings” to roll the labneh in, including za’atar, smoked paprika, pine nuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, and oregano.
How pretty is this?
We also served labneh with root vegetable slaw and with roasted vegetables. Lots of veggies in this meal.
I mean, doesn’t this color just make you smile?
We also served some labneh sprinkled with za’atar and drizzled with olive oil to scoop up with the fluffy pita. I could eat pita and labneh everyday. There was some labneh left after the meal, and I proceeded to spread it on everything – toast, omelettes, grilled cheese. So, so good. Try it. Okay, I’ll stop with the labneh love. 🙂
Next up, harak osbao, a lentils and pasta dish. So good!
The night before the meal I panicked that I’d run out of food since there were 25 people coming. So I added another dish, mujadara, at the last minute since I could make it out of ingredients I had on hand. Unfortunately I didn’t document which recipe I used, but it’s lentils, rice and fried onions and was a hit. Here’s an example recipe, though I don’t think it’s the one I actually used. Of course, we did not run out of food, and even after sending everyone home with leftovers I had leftovers for a week! Perfect.
For dessert we made two types of baklava, traditional walnut, and an almond version thanks to Emily’s brilliant idea.
There are few things that smell as enticing as baklava baking.
It was a feast, indeed!
The evening was filled with such great company….
…with the dishes and mess to prove it. A sight that makes me deeply grateful.