La Boîte is a New York City spice store owned by Israeli-born Lior Lev Sercarz. I own one of his books called The Spice Companion, and wrote about it in this post. To say this man is passionate about spices in an understatement. His bio is fascinating.
There is a website for the store, called La Boîte New York that not only sells individual spices and spice mixtures, but also books, gifts, biscuits (they’re amazing!), chocolates, and more. But for me, what feels so generous is that recipes are shared if you sign up for them.
I also follow Mr. Sercarz on Instagram, called La Boîte NY, one word.
In fact, at the beginning of the Pandemic, I made his Tunisian preserved lemons because of one of his Instagram posts. I finally get to use them with this recipe for arayes.
I’d never heard of arayes until his Instagram post some time in 2020, and I couldn’t wait to make them. I found a recipe for arayes in Ottolenghi’s Simple, but didn’t like it as much. Maybe I found it too simple?!!
Jonathan Borowitz and Alon Hadar
1 pound ground lamb (I had to use beef)
1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper or Pierre Poivre N7
1/2 teaspoon baharat (I recommend 3/4 teaspoon)
5 small pita breads
Spicy Tomato Salad
4 tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
10 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/4 Serrano chile pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon chopped preserved lemon
Quarter the onions and add them and the parsley in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Strain any juice off. Mix the chopped vegetables well with the lamb, salt, and spices and let the mixture rest for an hour in the fridge.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and halve the pita breads. I grilled them first to give them grill marks. Brush with a little olive oil first.
Shape the meatballs, about 3 ounces each (so about 5?) and gently open each pita bread and insert one meatball. Spread the meat with your fingers so that it is filled evenly, then press the pita with your hand on a board so that the pita is flat. This will ensure that the meat will be cooked evenly.
Brush the pitas with olive oil on both sides. (Don’t do this if you’ve already grilled them.) Put the pitas on a wire rack and cook in the oven for about 8 minutes or until the meat inside is cooked.
Remove to a rack lined with paper towels to cool.
For the Spicy tomato salad:
Chop the tomatoes, chile, and onion and mix with all ingredients.
To serve, spread 3 tablespoons of tahini sauce on the bottom of a serving plate. Place the salad on top and garnish with the preserved lemon.
Serve with the arayes.
Wow! these are good.
And the tomato salad is excellent. Perfect with the arayes.
If you plan on making these for company, have everything else ready before you pop the arayes in the oven. They’re best hot, and the pitas still slightly crispy. I also suggest a light brushing of oil because the pita breads absorb the oil and look dull.