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Loubia - Arab Style Green Beans

posted on: Sep 6, 2022

By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer

There is a subset of society that truly loathes green beans, perhaps from being forced to eat mushy and tasteless green beans from a can as children, or biting into tough and stringy beans the consistency of hay. Regardless, Arabs of the Levant have learned how to make vegetables palatable so even children enjoy them, as they are an integral part of their Mediterranean diet. Green beans are no exception, especially in the dish called “Loubia,” which is cherished among adults and children alike. This signature dish of green beans, onions, and tomatoes is particularly popular among Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese, especially this time of year where both ingredients are in peak season.

You too can savor every bite of green beans while reaping the benefits of vitamins C, K, and antioxidants. The secret to success begins in the farmer’s market or supermarket where you purchase the beans in the first place. When searching for the perfect green beans try these steps:

  1. Make sure the beans snap instead of bend- this signals freshness
  2. Look for a deep green color with no discoloration or blemishes
  3. Beans on the smaller side are preferable, because the larger they are, the tougher they will be
  4. Don’t be afraid to try them raw for sweetness ( try tasting one raw in the store, you will know they taste good before you even cook them) 

Now that you have sweet and snappy green beans, give them a try in this simple dish of Loubia, where tomatoes are sauteed with onions to bring out their sweetness, almost like a tomato jam. The sweet tomatoes are combined with the green beans, and the serving suggestions are endless. Some enjoy this dish cold right out of the refrigerator, with  a side of eggs for breakfast, tucked inside pita bread for a light lunch, or served as  a side dish with a protein for dinner. 

This particular recipe is a Palestinian version which allows the produce to shine, with the simple addition of salt and pepper. If you are more adventurous, feel free to make them Lebanese style by adding a dash of cumin, coriander, allspice, or even cardamom. While Chinese long beans and heirloom tomatoes are traditionally used, you can use other variations from haricot vert to even cherry tomatoes. The key is to use vegetables that are local and in season for maximum flavor and freshness 

In the video below, you will learn the technique of how to make this recipe, along with some useful food hacks to extend your produce. 



  • 1 pound tomatoes (any kind)
  • 1/2 pound green beans (Chinese long beans are preferred, but you can use any kind you like) 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (add more if you like) 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional dash of coriander, cumin, allspice, or cardamom
  • Optional toasted pine nuts for garnish
  • To peel the tomatoes, place them in a pot of hot boiling water for 1 minute. Drain the tomatoes and run cold water over them, then peel. In a skillet, saute the onions in 1 tbsp olive oil, until soft and semi-translucent. Add the garlic and saute one minute more. Add the peeled tomatoes and green beans, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 tbsp of tomato paste. Saute, then simmer for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the level of tenderness you prefer) . If the mixture starts to dry out, add boiling water in ½ cup increments. Serve hot or cold. Add toasted pine nuts if desired. 

Blanche Shaheen is the author of the cookbook called “Feast In the Middle East, a Journey of Family and Cuisine”  which you can order here:   She is also a journalist, and host of the popular cooking show called Feast in the Middle East. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond.  You can check out her cooking video tutorials at    Her recipes can also be found at: