The annual Maisano family dinner has come and gone, and 2016 was one of the best! This year we celebrated with Arabic foods and every dish was a hit.
A little bit of the story: our whole American-Sicilian family gets together once a year, usually the Sunday after Christmas, for an enormous feast. Every year has a different theme – cuisine, region, event – and we’ve spanned most of the globe over the years. Over twenty years and going strong!
This year’s full Arabic-inspired menu:
- Baba Ghanoush
- Traditional Hummus
- Black Bean Hummus
- Kicked-Up Syrian Hummus
- Tomato Rice Soup
- Lentil Soup
- Fattoush Salad
- Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad
- Lebanese Beef Shawarma
- Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma
- Jordanian Lamb Mansaf
- Kafta Kebabs
- Fried Chickpea Falafel
- Halloumi Cheese Fingers
- Toasted Middle Eastern Couscous
- Sweet Couscous with Dried Fruit
- Awamat Lebanese Doughnuts
The theme was inspired by my brilliant cousin who’s studying Arabic, Mandarin, and Latin – don’t know how this girl does it but she’s kicking my butt! It makes me happy to celebrate a part of the world in need of so much love.
Every recipe is doubled or tripled to feed the entire family – you can see why it takes several days to prepare!
We take eating very seriously.
This year went so smoothly it made me nervous. Things just didn’t quite feel right without last-second panicked grocery runs, forgotten recipes, or “just one more hour” delays… almost like we’re finally getting the hang of this.
There’s also usually one dish that we think, eh, could’ve skipped that one, but this menu was filled with keepers. Look for lightened-up versions of falafel, mansaf, and tomato rice soup in the next few weeks!
Each year I share my favorite recipe and this year’s pick was obvious. Dolmas are a long-time favorite that I’ve been meaning to make myself for years. These didn’t disappoint!
Don’t even get me started on the thick lemony sauce… I scooped it all up straight out of the fridge for breakfast. That’s right.
Next time: I think I’ll take out the lamb & sub veggie stock to make these vegetarian, because why not? Also fresh mint & parsley!
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 1 cup rice
- 1 yellow onion finely minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 T. salt
- 1 T. dried mint
- 1 T. dried parsley
- 1 t. dried oregano
- 1 T. pepper
- 16 oz. jarred grape leaves
- 4 lemons
- 4 cups beef stock
Mix together the lamb, rice, onion, olive oil, salt, and spices.
Rinse the grape leaves and separate in a colander. Place 2 grape leaves stem-side up on a cutting board, overlapping one-third of the leaves.
Place 2-3 tablespoons of filling on the edge of one leaf and roll, folding in the sides. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling.
Arrange dolmas in a single tight layer in a large pot. Cut the lemons in half and set on top.
Cover dolmas with beef stock and simmer until the rice is soft, about 30 minutes.