• Mai

Minestrone is a thick Italian soup made with vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice. The name minestrone means "big soup" thanks to the amount of veggies that are stirred in one pot. Minestrone was traditionally made to use up leftover vegetables, and ingredients that you often have at hand such as beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, tomatoes and pasta or rice. so feel free to use any seasonal vegetables and greens you have on hand. I used sweet potatoes and kale for the soup and it was absolutely delicious. Use a hunk of parmesan cheese in the tomatoes broth (just the Rind) it will add richness and depth to the soup plus more cheese shavings on top. This is a soup I make almost once or twice a month when the weather gets cooler. It’s loaded with veggies and plant based protein, it’s made in one pot and tastes even better the next day, my kids really love it. A big bowl of soup, a hunk of bread and back to the tv to watch more election news, I might need extra cheese and maybe some red wine.

Serves 6 to 8

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

COOK TIME: 60 min minutes


  • 1 yellow onion finely chopped

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Two sprigs fresh rosemary

  • 3 stalks celery chopped

  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds

  • 1 sweet potato diced

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans

  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans (not traditional but extra protein) rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup short pasta (I used orzo)

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • salt, and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (2x3-inch) Parmesan rind

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or a can of diced tomatoes

  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth or just water there’s lots of flavor in the soup

  • 4 cups chopped kale or spinach

  • Parmesan cheese and crusty bread, for serving


To a soup pot or a Dutch oven add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil begins to sizzle, add the onion and a sprinkling of salt, and hot pepper flakes if using, and sauté until softened about 3 minutes. Add the diced carrots and celery and cook for a few minute 4to 5 minutes. The caramelized veggies will add a nice depth and flavor to the soup.

  • Add the sweet potato and garlic and sauté until slightly softened.

  • Add the bay leaf, Rosemary sprigs, tomatoes, and broth. Add the Parmesan rind, crushed tomatoes, 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth or even water, and the beans. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

  • Stir in 1 cup dry short pasta, during the final 6 to 8 minutes of cooking

  • Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

  • Remove the Parmesan rind, the rosemary stem, and the bay leaf.

  • Stir in the 4 cups of kale and simmer until combined and the greens wilt. About 5 more minutes. Adjust your seasoning.

  • Serve the soup with more Parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and some crusty bread.


Vegetable and bean variations: feel free to use whatever in season or what you have at hand. If you don’t like kale use spinach if you don’t have sweet potatoes, add regular potatoes. Add zucchini or bite size broccoli florets. Experiment and have fun.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Soup thickens in the fridge, add more water or broth when reheating or as needed.

This soup freezes real well for up to 6 months in freezer safe containers.

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Blue skies and landscapes crowned with olive trees, branches hanging heavy with this years olives crop. A festive season where families, men, women and children of all ages come together to harvest the olives. They pack a picnic and head early in the morning to their olive groves scattered all over the hills of Palestine. The olive groves are often passed on through generations. Not only the olive trees have a significant impact on the Palestinian economy but the ancient trees with their tough branches and deep roots are a powerful symbol of resilience, culture and the Palestinian identity.

It’s a family affair and it takes few days to gather all the olives depending how many trees the family owns. Children reach up toward the branches of the olive trees, piles of purple and green olives are collected on top of a large tarp, spread out on the ground right beneath.

Zeit zaytoun is the Arabic word for olive oil which is at the heart of the Palestinian cuisine. It’s used for dressings, marinades, and for sautéing vegetables and meats. Morning ritual in most Palestinian homes consist of two ceramic bowls at the heart of the kitchen table, one for olive oil and one for za'atar. Warmed khubez (pita bread) gets first dunked in the oil then in the Za’atar. To me this tradition is my Palestinian communion.

Fall is the time when olives are harvested and mostly made into olive oil, while some of it is used to make pickled olives that are pretty much enjoyed with every meal. But fall is also the season to celebrate new vegetables that are the main ingredient of many Palestinian dishes. With green beans and spicy peppers still growing in the garden it means one thing. Tetas carrot and green beans spicy pickles preserved in olive oil. My teta would prepare jars and jars of this delicious mixture for her mouneh cabinet “pantry”. This mixture is delicious with Labaneh, on top of hummus, in a sandwich or with grilled meats and veggies.

And I really enjoy the taste of the olive oil after, as it sits and gets infused with all the chili’s, vegetables and garlic flavors, its get richer and more delicious with time. #الزيت_عماد_البيت



Yield: 3 to 4 cups

Time: 30 min active time


1/4 cup sea salt

2 cups carrots diced small about 6-7 carrots

2 cups fresh green beans trimmed and chopped into small rounds about 1/2 a pound

4 to 8 serrano peppers or jalapeños, diced or thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups olive oil


  • Combine 2 cups water and the salt in a glass bowl. Mix until the salt is dissolved. Add the carrots, serrano's, and green beans to the salt water and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

  • Day 2, drain and rinse the vegetables. In a clean sterilized jar add the vegetables, add the minced garlic toss well to combine and cover with the two cups of oil or until the vegetables are completely submerged in the olive oil. This Palestinian style Giardiniera will only get better with time. It can keep in the fridge for months. Or if fully submerged in olive oil it can stay in a dry place in the pantry.

Why the salt soak?

  1. Soaking the cut veggies in a salt water solution allow for some of the moisture in the vegetables to be drawn from the tissues, which helps to preserve crisp texture through the pickling process.

  2. Soaking in a saltwater brine allows the correct bacteria to ferment and break apart the sugars in the vegetables

Serving suggestions:

This is delicious eaten on top of Labaneh, hummus, in a sandwich, with roasted or grilled meats. I just love it with warm pita bread.

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Okra stew or in Arabic is called Bamieh is a traditional Palestinian stew. There are also other cooking variations found all throughout the Arab world. Sometimes this stew is prepared with meat usually lamb, simmered in tomatoes, and spices. But I always prefer the vegetarian version; bamieh stewed in olive oil.

The bamieh pods in Palestine are often so tiny compared to the okra I find in the states. In the summer time till early fall my mom would only buy okra baladieh (local) often grown in Jericho.

My early memories of okra consist of my mother frying fresh tiny okra pods in oil until they are crispy golden. She always piled them high on a paper lined tray to catch the excess oil. But before you know it, we had munched on most of them. This preparation was also to preserve the okra to freeze for the winter months. Although I love this stew but okra straight out of the fryer is super delicious with a dusting of coarse salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. My grandmother’s Version always had tender lamb pieces simmering in the tomato broth because my grandfather loved it that way. This type of okra stew was often served alongside a bowl of white fluffy rice. Or mopped with warm pita bread.

I love recipes like this one because they are minimal, and they are still cooked the same way our grandparents cooked them. so simple and fast and often cooked using local seasonal ingredients.

If you are scared to try okra because of the slime factor. Well, you came to the right place. I am going to share with you all you need to know about how to cook a slime free okra and I hope that this technique will encourage you to try this delicious and comforting stew.

But If you don’t like okra at all and I can’t convince you, no worries you can try a similar recipe; my green beans stewed in tomatoes and olive oil.

Finish the bamieh stew with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of cilantro to wake up all the stew flavors and since we used coriander in the dish the green cilantro will add a nice flavor.

Bamieh bi el zeit

Okra in olive oil

Cook time: 60 minutes

Serves: 3-4


2 pounds fresh okra (you may substitute for frozen then thawed)

4 cups fresh tomatoes chopped or a 28 ounce crushed tomatoes

2 onions thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 tsp ground

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or half a cinnamon stick

4 tablespoons olive oil divided plus more for finishing

4-5 cloves garlic minced

Fresh cilantro (optional)

Jalapeños or red pepper flakes (optional)


Trim off and discard the stem ends of the okra pods. Don’t cut too much or too close into the flesh.

Wash and pat them dry.

Tip: Drying your okra can help reduce the slime factor.

Preheat the oven to 425

Toss the okra with 2 tbls of olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Add your okra to a baking sheet pan and roast in a single layer.

Toss half way through the cooking process to make sure the okra is roasted on both sides.

About 8-10 minutes the okra will become softer and a bit caramelized.

In the meantime in a heavy pot, sauté the onions, garlic and jalapeños if using in 2 tbls of olive oil until translucent about 5-8 minutes tossing frequently so they don’t burn.

Add the cinnamon stick, spices, and the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes release their juices and caramelize a bit. About 8-10 minutes on medium heat

Add the roasted okra and make sure it’s coated in the tomatoes. Depending on how juicy your tomatoes are add a bit of water if sauce gets too thick.

Cook for an additional 10 minutes on low heat.

Finish the dish with a nice drizzle of olive oil. And top with fresh cilantro.

Okra seems to scare some people away, I don’t know if it’s the texture or the slime factor. Well these few cooking tips might change your mind about cooking and enjoying okra.

For a slime free okra:

  1. Choose small tender pods

  2. Cook the okra whole just remove the tough stem.

  3. Fry or like I did here in the recipe roast your okra. Not only this step will add lots of flavor but it will help with reducing sliminess tremendously.

  4. Cooking okra in something acidic like tomatoes will also reduce the sliminess.

What Is Okra?

Okra is a fruit, though often mistaken for a vegetable. The light green seed pods are cooked whole or sliced, so preparation is extremely easy, and it can be cooked in so many ways. However, choosing the right cooking method, such as frying, grilling, sautéeing, and pan-roasting, can reduce or prevent it from becoming slimy.

It contains mucilage, a substance that acts as a natural thickener when heated. While this is beneficial to dishes like gumbo, it also produces the sliminess so often associated with okra.

What Does It Taste Like?

Okra has a mild, almost grassy flavor that is uniquely okra. While it's sometimes compared to the taste of eggplant or green beans, its texture gets more attention. Okra is crunchy when cooked quickly but becomes almost mouthwateringly tender when slow-cooked.

Serve with fluffy white or brown rice or mopped with warm pita bread.

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