1. Ful Medames
“This is like the national breakfast dish in Egypt. I top it with lemon juice, olive oil, diced tomato, and chopped parsley,” Ross says. In a blender, combine 5 cups water, 2 chopped medium tomatoes, 5 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon each ground cumin, sweet smoked paprika, and Aleppo pepper, and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium pot and add 3 cups peeled dried fava beans. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until beans are soft, about 45 minutes. (You can make this dish the day before.)
“I get pita from Sanabel Bakery & Grocery [4213 N. Kedzie Ave., Albany Park]. I get olives and labneh there too. I toast the pita for a second to warm it up. Typically you would dip the pita into olive oil and then into za’atar, but I save a step and drizzle the pita with olive oil and dust it with za’atar.”
“Za’atar is made with wild thyme, sesame seeds, sumac — which has a lemony acidity — and sometimes a little coriander or cumin, depending on where you are in the Middle East. I use the Ziyad brand.”
“I like a medley of different types and sizes of black and green olives. I add lemon or orange zest and red pepper flakes to give things a little kick.”
“You can buy labneh, but I just take Greek yogurt and stir in lemon juice and salt to taste, then strain it through a cheesecloth for a day or two until it’s twice the thickness of the yogurt. Definitely use whole milk yogurt for this.” Ross tops it with a sprinkle of dried mint and Aleppo pepper.