Lebanese Green Bean Stew (yahneh or lubieh) from the expert

By Peggy Abood, special to Rose Water & Orange Blossoms

As the youngest of five in a Lebanese family, you get used to a certain amount of teasing especially when you have three older brothers and a precocious elder sister. There are earlier stories of my childhood affinity for a certain pair of white snow boots, or hiding a full dinner plate under a table in a different room, that will not be recounted here. Just because we’re now all in our 40s doesn’t mean the teasing has come to an end. Of late, the siblings have taken to teasing me about my love of this dish, yahneh, even as they eat every last bit of it when it’s on their plates. Sure, it’s a dish usually made with leftovers, more an afterthought than a direct destination, but it’s delicious nonetheless.

Yahneh is a peasant dish and one that my father loved dearly. His mother made it regularly and must have made it with peas, something my own mother never did, but that fact didn’t stop him from asking every time, when I told him I was making it in my Chicago kitchen, “Are you making it with peas or beans?” I’ve never once had this dish with peas but I would always respond, “Green beans this time, Dad.”

I’ve been the recipient of family ire for using leftover prime rib or tenderloin to make the yahneh, as evidently some believe such luscious cuts of meat have higher purposes. But it must have been one of these preparations that started to turn the corner of some of them because last winter we received a text message from our oldest brother, Tom, requesting the recipe for yahneh. The great irony of it all was that the one who teased me the most about loving this dish was my sweet sister Maureen. And when the request came in from Tom for the recipe, who was the first one running to her laptop to type out the recipe? You guessed it, Maureen.

Lebanese Green Bean Stew (yahneh or lubieh)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 3 lb. chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
Salt and pepper
½ lb. button or baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 28 oz. cans tomato sauce
28 oz. (1 can full) water
1 pound green beans, washed and trimmed

In a 4 quart pan, over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown and caramelize the meat in batches, removing the meat as it is finished.

Over medium heat, add the mushrooms to the pot. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Saute until slightly caramelized and soft, scraping up the fond, or browned bits, from the bottom of the pan.

Add the onions, season lightly with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and translucent.

Add the meat and the cinnamon. Mix well and add the tomato sauce and the water. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for one hour.

Add the beans and cook until the beans are soft, about 15 minutes.

Serve over Lebanese rice, which is long grain white rice with a handful of toasted thin pasta added to the rice (about 10 dry noodles broken into 2” pieces; angel hair, spaghetti, or linguini all work well). To toast the pasta, melt butter in a sauce pan over medium high heat and when it foams up, add the pasta, stirring constantly until the pasta turns golden. Add the rice, coat with the butter, then add the broth (2:1 broth to rice). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.

Find a PDF of this recipe here.

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28 Responses to Lebanese Green Bean Stew (yahneh or lubieh) from the expert

  1. Geralyn Lasher says:

    I am with you Peggy–Lubieh has always been one of my favorites! In the Lasher house we never have added the mushrooms, so I am eager to give that a try next time I make it. We serve it over hashwi. Love, love, love it!

  2. Kelly Tivey says:

    I CANNOT wait to make this over the weekend!! Thanks!

  3. If I remember correctly, Del Monte canned green beans made their way into this dish more often than not in the Abood household. And the meat was not usually given such TLC to bring out its’ fully caramelized potential, either. Cut up, very well done left over pot roast is my clearer memory. And it produced a pretty darn good Yah.
    Your fancy extra virgin olive oil, and baby bella mushrooms, and farm market green beans are a little daunting for this peasant dish – but I will give them a try, because I know you are an expert in the genre, and particularly because it looks pretty good in the picture…but a full teaspoon of cinnamon I will not! Just a dash. And you forgot to mention the cayenne pepper and the cumin.

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Well isn’t that something. I’m glad to see you are finally weighing in, Richard. You change out that full teaspoon cinnamon (yes) for cumino and you will be the only one eating your yahneh……

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Mother says: “Richard, back then we didn’t have fresh beans in Lansing in the middle of winter..”

  4. Peggy Abood says:

    Dicky sweetheart brother, you know we don’t use cumin in anything, ever! You are one of the supreme teasers about this dish especially as the zoom rolls down your chin! Enjoy!!!

  5. Patti Markho says:

    I loved the article until I read the back and forth between you, Maureen and Dick – loved that more :)
    Peggy, you made me laugh out loud when you said your Dad asked you if you were using peas or beans every time. I had the pleasure of eating Yahneh at the Abood house many years ago and it was everything you describe above and more……deeee-lish!! I especially remember how much your Dad enjoyed it.

  6. Ellen Hildenbrand says:

    Hi Maureen– please let Peggy know that I made this delicious dish last Sunday using her recipe and it was incredible. I never caramelized the meat before — (took forever but well worth it). My Mom’s recipe calls for Campbell’s Tomato Soup which always made me wonder if I had written the recipe down incorrectly! The Lubieh just improved overnight and we enjoyed it even more as leftovers!
    Thank you both for sharing the sweet story and the yummy recipe! E.

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Ellen, I am so excited to hear this!!! Thank you for letting me know that you are cooking up a storm over there, and so glad you enjoyed the recipe!!!

  7. alice hrdy says:

    cousins!! love the blog! I am making this dish now (known affectionately as ” loobie” at my house). Your Aunt Pat didnt use mushrooms that I remember but we bought some this am so they are going in!! love to you all! keep the recipes coming. Much love, Alice.
    @ Dick– LOL at your post

  8. Scot Gabriel says:

    Hi Maureen: Just made a huge pot of lubee to be served tomorrow evening as the cousins arrive from all over for Thanksgiving weekend! It brought back an age-old discussion in our Lebanese community here in Lawrence: does one season lubee with cinnamon or allspice? At least here, the division seems to be drawn by Lebanese hometown! And if you are unlucky like me and my siblings and hail maternally from an allspice jurisdiction (thanks to Sitho Maroon who was actually 100% Irish yet a phenomenal Lebanese cook having trained with our “Big Sitho”) and paternally from a cinnamon jurisdiction (Sitho Gabriel has actually just become a cook in her eighties!), you are torn. I have been told that you take you lubee spice from your mother’s side though! So at least for tonight it was allspice!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    PS: my mother calls the rice option “Basillah e ruz”. It is tasty also!

  9. Scot Gabriel says:

    Sorry, I meant the pea option!

  10. Rae Trees says:

    I’ve only just come across this blog as today I’m cooking ‘beans, mutton and rice’, it looks the same as your yahneh! We don’t put the mushrooms in it, just onion, lamb, tomatoes and beans.. and served on rice.The whole family love it and that’s what we are having Christmas Eve for dinner, served with crusty bread.

    my grandfather was Lebanese and we actually grew up with the Aboods from Kempsey.

    Cheers and have a wonderful Christmas.

    Rae Trees.

  11. Teresa Abraham says:

    Hi, Maureen: I asked my brother Chuck what he would like me to make for our Sunday dinner at his house today. Looks like we’re having some cousins in from Grand Rapids. He asked me to make Lubia. I’ve made it a couple times, trying to make it like my mom’s, but thought I’d look it up online. So when I typed it up your site pops up. How cool! Chuck will love that. -Teresa-

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Teresa, you made my DAY! Thanks so much and tell your family hello–what a wonderful sister you are, cooking for all of the family. It’s going to be delicious!

  12. Michael says:

    Got your response to my post and am here.
    Can I just say that if you were single and in Canada I would EASILY propose to you! lol
    My (Lebanese) friend only ever made this with Chicken. I never thought to make it with Beef. AND mushrooms?!??!! SOLD!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You absolutely ROCK!!!!!

    Side note: I know it’s not Lebanese but I made an amazing Lasagna this week that I call a “4×4 Lasagna”. It has 4 kinds of mushrooms (button, Cremini, Portobello & Porcini) and 4 kinds of cheese (Ricotta, Parmesan, Mozzarella & Fontina). My partner is vegetarian and LOVES mushrooms (as I do) and I thought this would make her VERY happy. She was in heaven. :-)

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Michael, what a great comment, thank you! You rock too–4×4 lasagna and lubieh with chicken? Count me on on that heaven!

  13. Michael says:

    ALL: As Maureen knows I am working with memories of a friend who made a tonne of amazing Lebanese cuisine. She called “Lubieh” the “Kraft Dinner of the Lebanese” which I’m sure some of you will get as it’s a Canadian reference. She made it with Chicken and Mint (instead of Cinnamon). It was DELICIOUS!
    For years I used to enjoy this and tried to convince my (Irish) mother to try it. She refused for years. One day she relented and – to this day – she absolutely LOVES Lubieh.

    If you’re interested in the Chicken version (and Maureen doesn’t mind) I’d be happy to share.


  14. Maureen Sanderson says:

    I was hoping to make this for company this wekend, but all the fresh green beans don’t look very good. Would you use canned or go with less than appealing fresh? My mom says to use syrian pepper. would this be in addition to cinnamon or instead of? And lastly, if making vegetarian, would you just omit the beef or add something else instead? Thank you!

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Hi Maureen–If the beans seem very large and sort of hollow, go with canned or frozen. You could certainly add a dash of Aleppo pepper in addiiton to the cinnamon; that will blend nicely. For vegetarian yaheneh, use mushrooms in place of the meat, very delicious!

      • Maureen Sanderson says:

        Thank you! It tasted just like I remembered! I believe it was the cinnamon. The Syrian pepper my mom refers to is a combination of spices which includes cinnamon so maybe that was the difference. SYRIAN PEPPER (DA’A) black pepper, white pepper, nutmeg, ground cloves, cinnamon and allspice. Is that something you are familiar with?

        I’m thrilled to have found you as a resource. My mom enjoyed your description of the yogurt making process as she recalls her grandmother putting her little finger in to test. I might need to try that next!

        • Maureen Abood says:

          Oh, I see Maureen, that’s a spice blend rather than the spicy Aleppo pepper I thought you were referring to. That mix sounds delicious and like one of many blends used all over the region. Get after the laban-making too! And hello to your mom.

          • Maureen Sanderson says:

            Thank you! I set my mom’s ipad up with your site bookmarked – I know she will find everything you write as delightful as I do.

            I’m looking for a recipe my mom makes that she calls ishee sp? not sure how it’s spelled but it’s a mix of grated summer squash and zucchini with egg, flour mint.. do you have a recipe for something like that?

      • Sharon says:

        I’ve never had lubieh with mushrooms, but my sister’s Lebanese husband and mother-in-law have always made a veggie version with chickpeas instead of beef or lamb. In the summertime they swap the warm spices for lots of basil. It’s addictive!


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