Lebanese green beans, in Arabic known as loubieh bi zeit, is a simple but delicious dish enjoyed in the summer when the weather is warm. The green beans are braised with lots of tomatoes, onions, and garlic until tender and so flavorful. Like many traditional Lebanese dishes, this recipe is naturally vegan and gluten-free. And I know I say this a lot, but you definitely need bread to mop up the yummy sauce!
In Arabic, loubieh bi zeit literally translates to "green beans in oil". And oil always refers to olive oil. We have many dishes that end with the phrase "bi zeit", or in olive oil, and that automatically means the dish is vegetarian and can be enjoyed cold.
For example, we have fasoolia bi zeit (beans in olive oil), bemyeh bi zeit (okra in olive oil), and hindbeh bi zeit (dandelion greens in olive oil). You get the point, right? By learning the word "zeit" you're basically fluent in Arabic now.
If you love going meatless some days like I do, then you would also love my Lebanese eggplant moussaka (maghmour) recipe, which is also enjoyed cold. And since it's finally tomato season, I can't not remind you of my tomato feta panzanella that I am so obsessed with.
- Green beans: If they are in season and available, romano beans are the traditional way to go. They are the best but hard to come by. Otherwise, fresh regular green beans are great. When not in season, frozen green beans are also a great option.
- Tomatoes: Again, if they are in season, buy the best, ripe tomatoes you can get because they will have a big impact on the flavor of the sauce. Here I'm using very ripe cherry tomatoes from my garden, but regular tomatoes are great too. Otherwise, you can use canned tomatoes which will have better flavor than out of season tomatoes.
- Onions and garlic: We love it loaded with LOTS of onions and garlic because they add so much flavor and sweetness to the sauce. You can use less if you prefer!
- Tomato paste: A little bit of tomato paste adds a lot of flavor and thickens the sauce.
- Olive oil: Make sure you pick a high quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Cinnamon: If you thought cinnamon only belongs in desserts, think again! Cinnamon is a common spice in Lebanese cooking. It adds a touch of warmth and delicious flavor to the dish. A little goes a long way!
First, get all your vegetables prepared. If using fresh romano or regular green beans, trim the ends and cut or snap them in half. Frozen green beans should be thawed before using.
If you're using fresh tomatoes, dice them. Cherry tomatoes can be halved or quartered. If using canned tomatoes, you can either use whole tomatoes and roughly chop them or just use canned diced tomatoes.
Peel and slice the onions and garlic. Some people leave the garlic cloves whole, but I prefer to slice mine so I don't get a whole clove of garlic in a bite.
Place a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions and garlic and sauté for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
Add the green beans, season them with salt, and sauté them for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until they have started to soften.
Then add the tomatoes and toss for a minute, followed by the tomato paste and cinnamon. Season with salt and mix everything until well combined.
The Key is Low and Slow
Let the mixture come to a simmer, lower the heat a bit, and cover with a lid and let it cook for about an hour, or until the green beans are very tender and the sauce has thickened.
The tomatoes and green beans will release a lot of liquid as they cook down. However, make sure you check on it every 15 minutes or so to see if the bottom is drying out.
You might need to add about half a cup of water at a time to prevent the sauce from drying out and burning at the bottom of the pot.
Unlike popular green bean recipes, we are not looking to cook these al dente, or to still have a crispy bite or crunch.
On the contrary, we braise the green beans low and slow until they are soft and infuse the tomato sauce with their flavor. It's a beautiful flavor transformation! Don't worry about the green beans losing their vibrant green color.
The amount of liquid you need to add will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are and how saucy you want the dish to be. I love sauce, in case it wasn't obvious in my other posts.
If you accidentally add too much water and the sauce is too runny by the time the green beans are already cooked, no big deal. Just uncover the pot and let the sauce reduce to your desired thickness. It does get thicker as it cools, too.
Taste the sauce and adjust the salt to your liking. This dish can take a decent amount of salt to bring out all the delicious flavors.
How To Serve Loubieh Bi Zeit
Once it's done, turn off the heat and uncover the lid to let it cool for a while. We usually eat it slightly warm, at room temperature, or chilled. You'll find out what you prefer!
Serve Lebanese green beans with pita bread, fresh cut veggies such as raw white onions, radishes, and cucumbers. Yes - I said raw white onions.
Here's how you do it: Grab a small piece of pita bread, fill it with saucy green beans, stuff it in your mouth, then take a small bite of the white onion and chew everything together. Trust. Me.
Substitutions and Variations
This recipe is naturally vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free.
- Green beans: You can try this with many different kinds of green beans that are in season. Depending on the type, you'll need to adjust cooking time until the beans are very tender.
- Protein: If you'd like to bulk it up, cooked chickpeas would be a great addition, though not traditional.
- Spicy: Add some aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper if you like heat. Alternatively, you can substitute hot pepper paste for tomato paste.
Tips on Making the Best Lebanese Green Beans (Loubieh Bi Zeit)
- Look for romano beans. Romano beans are in the same family as green beans, but they are wide, flat and a little sweeter. They're also known as Italian flat beans and Italian pole beans. In Lebanon, they are called loubieh bedriyeh and are the preferred bean for this dish if available. But regular green beans work great too. For more information on buying and prepping green beans, check out this helpful article by Serious Eats.
- Get the best ingredients possible. The simplicity of this Lebanese green beans recipe means the flavors of the main ingredients will shine. So try to look for the best green beans, tomatoes, and olive oil for this recipe. Even if you're buying canned tomatoes, quality matters.
- The key is low and slow. These green beans need to be slowly braised to allow for the best flavors to develop. This recipe does not require much active prep time, but you do need to be patient with the cooking time. Don't rush it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditionally, we serve it at room temperature or chilled with pita bread and raw white onion slices. We also like to have other fresh vegetables on the side such as radishes and cucumbers. We often eat it as a light, vegetarian/vegan meal, but it can also be served warm as a side dish.
Leftover Lebanese green beans should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge up to one week. Note that leftovers taste even better, so making a big batch is a good idea!
See My Latest Recipes For More Delicious Ideas
- One-Minute Homemade Mayonnaise (Immersion Blender)
- Cucumber Mint Yogurt Salad (Cacik)
- Smoked Tomato Confit
- Lebanese Mint Lemonade (Limonana)
- The Best Lebanese Lemonade
If you’ve tried making this Lebanese Green Beans (Loubieh Bi Zeit) or any other recipe on Forks & Foliage, then please don't forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! I would be so happy to hear how it turned out for you. And if you took any photos or videos, please share them with me on Instagram @forksandfoliage so I can see the deliciousness you made!
Lebanese Green Beans (Loubieh Bi Zeit)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or halved
- 2 pounds romano or green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half (see note for frozen green beans)
- 1 ½ pounds tomatoes, diced (see note for canned tomatoes)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Place a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the onions and garlic and sauté them together for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
- Add the green beans and a big pinch of salt and toss together, sautéing for another 10 minutes, until the green beans become softer.
- Add the tomatoes and toss for a minute. Then add the tomato paste, cinnamon, and the rest of the salt. Stir well until everything is combined and sauté for a couple minutes.
- Bring the liquid in the bottom of the pot to a simmer, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low or low depending on the size of the burner.
- Let the green beans cook for about an hour, or until they are very tender and no longer a vibrant green. Check on them occasionally to stir them, and if the liquid is drying out, add about half a cup of water and stir.
- Taste the sauce and adjust the salt to your liking, and add some fresh cracked black pepper. If the beans are cooked but the sauce is too runny, remove the lid and let the sauce reduce to your desired consistency.
- Let the braised green beans cool for at least 20 minutes or chill in the fridge before serving. Serve with pita bread, raw white onion slices, radishes, and cucumbers.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and may vary.