There is a group of girls that are my lunch friends. The same group gets together about every other week and we typically choose sushi or, our favorite Mediterranean restaurant, Mandaloun.
This is one of those hidden gems that is tucked away in a non-descript strip mall. No one would ever know it was there other by word of mouth.
Lucky for them I have a pretty big mouth.
The owner’s name is Pierre and he is originally from Lebanon. His family has a history of catering and hospitality that dates back to the 30s when their first restaurant was opened in the mountains of South Lebanon.
It’s no wonder that anyone I bring there is delighted. My two favorite items to order are an authentic, insanely and deliciously tangy, fresh fattoush salad and a salad bar-complete with naturally vegan options-lentil soup, steaming soft pita, creamy hummus, babaghanouj and beans, salads and a hot bar.
This was another plus to this restaurant. When I cut out meat and dairy, I could still come and get exactly the same thing I would normally get.
Such as this balila. They only make it a few days a week and it was so amazing I asked him what was in it. This is my (much quicker) interpretation.
Lebanese Chickpea Balila
Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup organic, sodium free vegetable broth
4 tablespoons lemon juice (about one lemon)
¼ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic and cumin about two minutes, stirring constantly.
2. Add chickpeas and salt, cook 3 to 4 minutes. Smoosh about 1/3 of the chickpeas with a fork.
3. Add broth and lemon, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 7 to 10 minutes or until thickened. Top with parsley and pine nuts