Magazine Recipes

Mezze Mania! 33 Vegan Middle Eastern Recipes

middle-eastern-dishes

By Lora O’Brien

When it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine, the most daring many of us get is munching  a falafel or some hummus. And that’s a real shame. As one of the world’s most ancient and rich cuisines, Middle Eastern food – namely that from the Levant and Persian Gulf – is  packed full of passion, flavour, tradition and loads of nutrition.

Mezze – small dishes of tasty food – especially embody the generous, sharing culture of the region, and of course provide an opportunity to try a cornucopia of different flavours and textures.

Popular ingredients include olives, olive oil, flat breads, sesame seeds, dates, mint, parsley, and of course, chickpeas. Oh, and loads of meat – but we’re not gonna go there. Each one of these recipes may be based in centuries of tradition, but they’ve all been given a vegan or vegetarian twist.

33 Vegan Middle Eastern Recipes

1. Traditional Creamy Hummus

We all know and love hummus, that  smooth, creamy dip that can be spread on a sandwich, dipped into by some fresh crudites, or just eaten on its own. Hummus is pretty easy to make and consists of blending chickpeas, tahini and garlic together until it reaches the desired consistency. Garnish with olive oil, set on the table and watch it disappear within seconds.

Get the recipe here

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2. Chickpea Shawarma Sandwich

This usually meat-heavy dish gets a vegan make-over in this recipe thanks to chickpeas! It’s a savory, warm and comforting sandwich. The chickpeas are subtly spiced with a little zing from the garlic sauce and finished off with red onion, slices of tomato and some crispy romaine lettuce.

Get the recipe here

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3. Quinoa Tabbouleh

This is a gluten free version of the traditional tabbouleh salad, which usually features bulgur wheat. Personally, I like my tabbouleh with a bit more parsley and a load of zingy lemon.

Get the recipe here

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4. Manakish Zaatar

Manakish Za’atar is a traditional Lebanese dish that is similar to pizza. The soft pita is used as a base and then topped with an aromatic za’atar spice mix. Traditionally served up for breakfast in the Middle East, but I’d serve this up as an appetizer alongside some hummus.

Get the recipe here

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5. Sabich Sandwich

Fried eggplant and hard boiled eggs usually comprise this vegetarian sandwich, but in this vegan version, the eggs have been replaced with fava beans. They combine with the eggplant and hummus and lots of fresh, crunchy veggies to make a super healthy, tasty lunch.

Get the recipe here

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6. Vegan Shish Taouk

Shish Taouk is basically a kebab made with marinated meat, typically chicken. But this recipe uses marinated tempeh and tofu along with some veggies to make a simple meal on a stick. Best served with some brown Basmati rice.

Get the recipe here

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7. Tofu Shawarma

The real star in this recipe? Tofu. It’s marinated for twelve hours in twelve different spices to give it a deeply rich, aromatic flavour. The shawarma’s typical pita bread is replaced here by lettuce leaves to make this a low-carb treat.

Get the recipe here

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8. Vegan Kofte

Kofte is a kind of meatball that is made from minced or ground meat and then mixed with spices and onions.  This recipe by Jamie Oliver subs in zucchini for meat and comes with a nutty sauce and minty dip.

Get the recipe here

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9. The Best Baba Ganoush

If you’ve never had baba ganoush before, then you’re in for a treat! It’s basically a dip made from cooked eggplant mixed with tahini, olive oil and a variety of seasonings. The end product is a deliciously rich, smoky dip that’s incredibly creamy and moreish!

Get the recipe here

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10. Fattoush Salad

Fattoush is a bread salad that uses up stale, toasted or fried pieces of pita bread mixed with a combination of greens and other veggies like radishes, onion and tomatoes. And there’s a helluva lot of flavour since its all tossed together with a tangy vinaigrette, too.

Get the recipe here

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11. Middle Eastern Spicy Potato Salad (Batata Harra)

Batata harra is a Lebanese potato dish that that’s spicy and easy to make – and easy to have disappear once on the table. This is the perfect accompaniment for just about anything.

Get the recipe here

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12. Ful Medames (Fava Bean Dip)

Ful medames is a traditional Egyptian dish that has been making its way onto breakfast tables around the Middle East. It straddles the line between being a bean salad/a bean dip. Made from cooked fava beans that have been seasoned with olive oil and spices, it also often has tomatoes, onions or boiled eggs served with it.

Get the recipe here

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13. Vegetarian Mushroom Dolma

‘Dolma’ means stuffed – and that’s exactly what these grape leaves are! Rice, mushrooms and herbs are packed into these little fingers of yum to make a dreamy side dish. Not as hard to make as you may think, either.

Get the recipe here

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14. Vegan Labneh Cheese

If you’re a fan of Middle Eastern food then you may have already been acquainted with labneh. It’s usually made with yogurt and is strained to gain a thicker consistency that falls a little between the usual yogurt texture and cheese. This vegan version has all the tang and consistency of the real thing, and serves as  wonderful dip, too.

Get the recipe here

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15. Mejadra

Hey vegans – meet your new favourite dish! It’s basically lentils and rice topped off with crispy, crunchy fried onions that sit atop the scrumptious mass. And don’t forget that brown rice and lentils make a complete vegan protein…

Get the recipe here

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16. Falafel Balls

Everybody’s favourite Arab dish, falafels are pretty much a perfect vegan burger substitute. Or not. They’re so versatile – you can throw them into wraps, add them to salads, or eat them on their own. But we like them the traditional way – served in a hot pita wrap with tahini sauce, tomatoes, salad and Lebanese pickles. Yum!

Get the recipe here

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17. Lentil Tahchin

This looks like a cake, but it’s savory, not at all sweet. Rice, vegan yogurt, saffron, lentils, chickpea flour and a little salt for taste make this a tasty Arabian ‘quiche’. And it’s pretty easy to make – everything is just mixed together, baked, and voila!

Get the recipe here

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18. Mushroom Boureka

This dish is extremely popular throughout the Middle East, and it’s easy to see why. They’re tasty little pastry triangles made with savoury fillings like spinach, cheese and eggplant, and are served as mezze. This delicious version is filled with mushroom, red onions and seasoned with thyme – but why not improvise?

Get the recipe here

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19. Vegan Menemen

This traditional dish actually hails from Turkey, and includes eggs, tomatoes, green peppers and spices. The onions are slow cooked with hot green chillies and then stewed with tomatoes. Eggs go in at last moment, but can be replaced by silken tofu for vegans, as in this recipe. Serve with a chunk of freshly made bread and serve up for a pretty fancy brunch!

Get the recipe here

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20. Lentil Soup

From Turkey to Lebanon, no meal would be complete without a wee bowl of lentil soup to kick it off. Although chicken broth is the typical base for this starter, you can easily sub in vegetable stock for a vegan treat.

Get the recipe here.

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21. Fatteh (Chickpea Bake)

Crumbled, toasted pita covered in warm chickpeas and a cool, tangy yogurt sauce makes for a super filling dinner. And this recipe is super easy to make vegan as you can simply switch out the yogurt for soy, or vegan sour cream.

Get the recipe here

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22. Maghmour

Maghmour is a bit like a rich stew: it’s a thick, smoky eggplant and chickpea dish that’s naturally totally vegan. When served with some basmati rice, it’s the most comforting winter food I know.

Get the recipe here.

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23. Koshari with Zucchini, Lentils & Brown Rice

Koshari (kushari) is an almost iconic dish in Egypt. It’s a pretty simple recipe, it’s a rice and noodle pilaf with a spicy tomato sauce that’s packed with vegetables. This dish is a household fave as it uses up leftovers like a dream. And it’s naturally vegan. Get in!

Get the recipe here

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24. Veggie Maqluba

Maqluba basically translates to ‘upside-down’ which is exactly what this dish is. A popular dish in many Middle Eastern places, maqluba traditionally includes meat, rice and fried vegetables which are all placed into a pot and then flipped upside down when served. This recipe isn’t fully vegan – just swap the  butter and yogurt to make it so.

Get the recipe here

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25. Potato Kibbeh

Another popular mezze dish that is made from bulgar, minced onions and veggies or meat, kibbeh can be fried, or rolled into balls or patties and are either baked or cooked in a broth. Golden and crispy on the outside and packed with a perfumed veg filling on the inside. Note: the English version of this recipe is towards the end of the page.

Get the recipe here.

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26. Lebanese Walnut Dip (Muhammara)

Nothing appeals to me more than a night in with red wine, flat breads and a load of homemade dips. If you’re a dip fiend like me then this is definitely one for your recipe keeper! This Lebanese walnut dip is one of my go-to dishes to impress.

Get the recipe here.

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27. Tofu & Spinach Börek

Borek is usually filled with feta cheese and spinach, which is great for vegetarians. But vegans will love this filo pie that’s packed with tofu instead. When sprinkled with nutritional yeast, the tofu gets a cheese-like taste, and the fresh mint brings the Middle Eastern vibe to the forefront here.

Get the recipe here

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28. Lebanese Loubyeh b’zeit (green bean stew)

Loubyeh b’ zeit –  or stewed green beans – is a rich, warming dish. Though it calls for butter, you can sub in olive oil – in fact, many recipes do that. They key here is the delish tomato sauce. It’s a super easy, one pot dish to make and requires very few ingredients.

Get the recipe here.

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29. Fatayir (Spinach Pies)

Spinach fatayir are a family favorite. There are a few tricks to know before getting started, but the most important is tasting the filling before assembly. Adjust salt and lemon to taste, remembering that the acidity of lemon juice dissipates with heat, and some of the tartness is lost through baking. I like my spinach pies with a tart kick, so I often add more lemon juice to compensate

Get the recipe here.

29. Raw Pistachio Baklava (With Pistachio Ice Cream)

This recipe gives baklava, which is usually really fattening thanks to all the buttery pastry, a healthy, raw makeover. It’s also great because it uses coconut nectar instead of honey – perfect for vegans, and there’s even a vegan pistachio ice cream recipe to go on the side. Bonus!

Get the recipe here

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30. Vegan Knafeh

This is another Middle Eastern sweet that is sensational, but it normally isn’t free of eggs and dairy. Until now! This is the first time I’ve tried this recipe in a vegan-friendly way, and it still has the sweet, crunchy texture of the original, though it’s less buttery. Which is a good thing, right?

Get the recipe here

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31. Vegan Basbousa

Basbousa is a sweet cake that is greatly popular Middle Eastern treat. The cake itself is made from cooked semolina and is then soaked in a simple syrup. Coconut is then added, and the syrup itself will traditionally be orange flower or rose water and then garnished with blanched almonds. It’s super easy to make, and only a few changes are needed to make this vegan!

Get the recipe here

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32. Pistachio Filled Maamoul

Maamoul (kahk or ghorayeba) is probably one of the most famous cookies in the Middle East. During the feast that ends Ramadan, these are popularly filled with dates or walnuts, but this recipe stuffs them with crunchy pistachios.

Get the recipe here

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33. Raw Vegan Halva

I first tried halva (halaweh) when a vegan friend bought it over during a get together. I was a little dubious trying it but it was absolutely delicious. Creamy, rich and sweet, halva is made from sweetened sesame seed paste. The taste and texture of this recipe is true to the Middle Eastern traditional recipe – but this is a calorific treat! A little dab will do you fine.

Get the recipe here

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Main image: middleeasterndishes.com



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