One of the heartiest meals that my mother-in-law prepares is the vegetable bake (kaleb Khodar). It’s a traditional Lebanese dish that is usually prepared in fall when all the delicious vegetables are in bloom. You can use any vegetables you like, but the staple ones like potatoes, onions, and tomatoes should be used with any mix. This dish is very healthy and any mom can prepare it for her kids and encourage them to eat vegetables. Usually it is served with cooked rice or on its own. It’s a favorite dish in our house, and I make sure to serve it with fresh mint and radishes on the side. It’s naturally gluten-free, so I enjoy it with my family as well!

Ingredients

Yields 6 portions

- 3-4 tbsp. vegetable oil (I use canola)
- 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 500 grams beef (or lamb) shanks, trimmed and cut into medium size pieces
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 4 medium size potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices
- 3-4 medium size white onions, peeled and sliced
- 3 red tomatoes, sliced
- 2-3 zucchini, cut into thick slices
- 2 medium size eggplants, peeled and sliced
- 2 cups of green beans, trimmed and cut in half
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg




Method

  1. Put the vegetable oil in a pot and add the chopped onions.
  2. Add a little bit of salt over the onion and cook until soft and translucent.
  3. Add the meat and cook until the it is seared from all sides.
  4. Add 1 tsp of salt, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves.
  5. Mix well, then add water and tomato paste.
  6. Cover the pot and let it boil on low heat for around 1 hour or until the meat is tender.
  7. (I used the pressure cooker and cooked the meat for 10 minutes.)
  8. Once the meat is ready, prepare a Pyrex pot or any glass pot that handles heat.
  9. Take out half the meat and put it in the glass pot.
  10. Mix the remaining salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a small plate.
  11. Start layering the vegetables on top of the meat.
  12. (I started with the hard vegetables that need longer time to cook.)
  13. Put a layer of potatoes and sprinkle with the salt and pepper mix.
  14. Add carrots, sprinkle the mix, then green beans and zucchini.
  15. Add the remaining meat, then continue with the vegetables like onions, eggplant, and sliced tomatoes.
  16. Add the stock (from the meat) and cover the pot very well.
  17. Put in a pre-heated oven (200°C) and bake for 1 hour and a half or until all the vegetables are well-done.
  18. Enjoy a delicious and healthy meal with cooked rice.