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What Is Lebanese Garlic Sauce?

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  • Written By: Megan Shoop
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Lebanese garlic sauce is a savory, flavorful sauce generally eaten over chicken, roasted potatoes, and kibbeh — a Lebanese beef dish. Generally, Lebanese garlic sauce is a combination of fresh garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Very high amounts of garlic and oil are combined to create a thick, creamy sauce that almost has the consistency of paste. Those on low-fat diets may want to avoid this sauce, but vegans looking for a decadent entrée topping may want to try it. The recipe may also be modified slightly to include yogurt instead of oil. This usually reduces the fat and calories in Lebanese garlic sauce without ruining the flavor or consistency.

Most Lebanese garlic sauce recipes begin with 15 to 20 peeled cloves of fresh garlic. Fresh garlic can be obtained at most grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Occasionally, the garlic is already peeled, but it is relatively simple to break down garlic bulbs. The cook must simply push his or her thumb down into the point of the garlic bulb to separate the cloves. Stubborn cloves may be pulled apart with the fingers. Very fat cloves work best, but some bulbs have tiny cloves in the center, and these may be used too.

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The next part of preparing garlic for Lebanese garlic sauce involves peeling the cloves. Snipping away the tip and base of each clove generally makes it easy to peel off the papery outer coating. Once peeled, the cook should chop the garlic cloves up in to small pieces. The garlic may also be crushed in a garlic crusher. In either case, it is usually best to then place the garlic directly into a food processor.

Olive oil is the second primary ingredient in Lebanese garlic sauce. Late-harvest olive oil is the type of choice because of its rich flavor. Most Lebanese garlic sauce recipes call for about four parts olive oil for every one part of garlic. This is what makes this sauce so creamy — the olive oil and garlic are pasted and processed together in the food processor until the mixture is very smooth.

About .5 part of lemon juice is also added before processing. It may be lemon juice from a bottle or fresh-squeezed, depending on the cook’s preferences. Those using fresh lemons may want to use Meyer lemons to add some sweetness, or very tart lemons to keep the mixture savory. Those using Meyer lemons should typically sprinkle a pinch or two of salt into the food processor as well.

When substituting yogurt for the oil in Lebanese garlic sauce, cooks simply need to add 4 parts yogurt to the food processor instead of oil. Plain yogurt is generally the flavor of choice. Some cooks love to use Greek yogurt because it is very thick and creamy. Thinner yogurts may also be used, especially if cooks want the finished sauce to have an easy-to-pour consistency.

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