Israeli Sabich (Paleo, Whole30)

I’ve never eaten an authentic Sabich (sounds like SAH-beesh) from a street vendor in Israel. But I like to travel with my taste buds, so I dug into research to learn more about this popular sandwich. I read many magazine articles (like this and this), and all of them gushed about this irresistible combination of roasted eggplant, hard-boiled eggs, amba sauce, and tahini.

I also learned that there’s some dispute about the origins of its name—I love a recipe with a mysterious past!

“The root letters of sabich–S-B-H–spell ‘morning’ in Arabic, and in fact Iraqi Jews traditionally ate sabich on Sabbath mornings. However, some believe the letters stand for salat, beizah, hazilim (salad, eggs, eggplant)–the sandwich’s main ingredients.”

Like most traditional cuisine, each cook customizes the recipe, so I added spiced lamb to mine to increase the protein—but you can also enjoy a vegetarian version by omitting the lamb and increasing the number of eggs.

Sabich is really perfect Cookup food! All of the components can be made in advance then assembled when it’s time to eat. According to Jewish custom, there’s no cooking on the Sabbath so sabich is a popular meal because it can be assembled from pre-cooked ingredients—thus keeping custom and eating well.

This photo from my cookbook Well Fed 2 shows the sabich as a pretty stack—but you can also throw it into a bowl and get messy!

Paleo Sabich from Well Fed 2

Serves 2-4 | Prep 15 minutes | Sweat 30 minutes | Cook 20 minutes | Whole30 approved

  • 1 large eggplant

  • salt

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • a few pinches of za’atar (optional, but recommended)

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 1 large seedless cucumber, diced

  • 1 medium tomato, diced

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced

  • 1/4 medium red onion, minced

  • pinch salt and ground black pepper

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 3 tablespoons raisins

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 3/4 teaspoon dried mint

  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


Sweat the eggplant. Cut eggplant into 1/4-inch thick slices. Sprinkle the slices aggressively with salt on both sides and place in a colander or sieve to sweat for 30 minutes.


Prep the relish. In a medium bowl, mix olive oil and lemon juice with a fork. Add cucumber, tomato, parsley, and red onion. Toss to combine, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside.


Roast the eggplant. Preheat oven to 450F and cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel, then brush with fat and sprinkle with za’atar. Bake for 20 minutes, until browned and beginning to crisp. Meanwhile…


Brown the lamb. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add the lamb and cook until browned, breaking up big chunks with a wooden spoon. Add the onion, garlic, and raisins. Cook until the onions are soft, 5-7 minutes. Toss in the cumin, oregano, mint, Aleppo pepper, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and cook until fragrant.


Assemble! To serve, place eggplant slices on a plate and top with lamb, relish, and other optional garnishes. Drizzle with sauces.

You Know How You Could Do That?

Replace the lamb with ground beef, ground turkey, or a combo.

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