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5 Vegetarian Arab Dishes You Have to Try This Lenten Season

posted on: Apr 3, 2019

BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Arab America Contributing Writer

During Lent, Arab American Christians refrain from eating meat and dairy, bringing out the vegetarian side in all of us. Although Arab food is famous for its savory lamb recipes and mouth-watering cheeses, thousands will refrain from eating these foods for 40 days every year, and eat lots of soup and salad instead.

America is already in love with many classic vegetarian Arab dishes, such as fattoush, tabbouleh, lentil soup, mujaddarah, falafel, hummus, baba ghannoush, and vegan grape leaves. But what about the many other vegetarian dishes our culture has to offer?

This Lenten season, try mixing up your diet with these 5 dishes that are less common, Arab vegetarian dishes.

1. Fried Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce

Arabs don’t have very many fried foods on their palates, but if there’s one thing we know how to fry, it’s cauliflower. This recipe makes for an excellent snack or side dish.

5 Vegetarian Arab Dishes You Have to Try This Lenten Season


1 head of cauliflower

6 cups of vegetable oil

½ cup of tahini

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ tablespoon chopped parsley

¼ cup lemon juice

Optional: ¼ cup of water


Mix together tahini, minced garlic, chopped parsley, and lemon juice

Add salt to taste

Add optional water for a thinner tahini sauce

Cut cauliflower into bite-size pieces

Heat oil in deep-fryer or frying pan

Add half the cauliflower pieces to the hot oil until golden brown, or about 8 minutes

Take cauliflower out and place onto a dish lined with several paper towels for oil drainage

Repeat steps for the second half of cauliflower

Dip into tahini sauce

2. Burghul Stuffed Tomatoes

5 Vegetarian Arab Dishes You Have to Try This Lenten Season

The smell of baking tomatoes in this recipe will illuminate your home. Arabs typically stuff tomatoes with rice and meat, but burghul is a healthier substitution that adapts to many different flavors.


6 large tomatoes, ripe but firm

½ cup burghul

1 cup of water

1 tsp allspice

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp parsley, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

½ cup pine nuts

1 large onion, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste


Cut off top quarter of tomatoes and scoop out insides

Sprinkle insides of tomatoes with salt

Heat olive oil in a pan

Cook pine nuts until golden brown, about 2 minutes

Move pine nuts to a plate lined with paper towel for oil drainage

Cook onion in remaining oil until soft, about 7 minutes

Add burghul, salt, and pepper to taste

Stir for 2 minutes

Add 1 cup of water, then remove from heat and let stand about 30 minutes

Stir in pine nuts, parsley, lemon juice, allspice, and garlic

Spoon into tomatoes

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees

3. Potatoes With Cilantro, Garlic, and Lemon

5 Vegetarian Arab Dishes You Have to Try This Lenten Season

This recipe will make you rethink how you eat potatoes. Who knew cilantro and lemon could be so good with potatoes? For this tasty, vegetarian dish, be sure to make enough potatoes for everyone.


4 large potatoes, cubed

1-quart vegetable oil

1 cup cilantro, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

salt to taste


Heat oil in a deep-fryer or frying pan

Add potatoes to hot oil and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes

Place cooked potatoes on a plate lined with several paper towels for oil drainage

When cooled, add potatoes to a large mixing bowl

Stir in cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, and salt to taste until potatoes are coated

4. Sautéed Kousa

5 Vegetarian Arab Dishes You Have to Try This Lenten Season

Everybody loves eating stuffed squash, but the insides we take out while preparing the meal are often ignored after everything is cooked. During Lent, ditch the stuffed squash for the stuffing itself. It’s full of flavor that rivals any Arab meal.


6 kousa (referred to as gray squash in English, or green zucchini, or marrow)

salt to taste


Core the squash using a corer

Chop the outside layer of the kousa into pieces

Sauté the core and kousa pieces in a pan, about 10 minutes

Add salt to taste

Scoop with dairy-free Arab bread

Optional toppings: parsley, lemon juice, pepper, sautéed onions, and eggs

5. Sautéed Dandelions

5 Vegetarian Arab Dishes You Have to Try This Lenten Season

Don’t knock it until you try it! You can pick up dandelions for consumption at Arab and Asian markets across the country. They can be cooked easily at home with familiar ingredients for a surprisingly filling, healthy meal.


3 bunches dandelions

1 medium onion

1 ½ fresh lemons

3 tbsp of cilantro

¼ cup olive oil

2 tomatoes


Wash dandelions

Cut each stem to 2 inches in length

Boil the chopped dandelions

Drain and squeeze

In a frying pan, sauté chopped onions

Add the drained and squeezed dandelions

Sauté for 10 minutes on low heat

Add chopped cilantro and lemon juice to the sautéed dandelions

Scoop with dairy-free Arab bread or vegetables

Serve with cut up tomatoes

Optional: Place dandelions and pieces of tomatoes in the pocket of dairy-free Arab bread to make a sandwich