It’s no secret I love Lebanese food – hummus is practically a primary food group where my diet is concerned and I’m definitely no stranger to the island’s best Lebanese eateries.
One of my favourites is Beyroute Bistro and Deli . Since discovering it last April during my Easter break, I have been there more times than I can count. I’ve practically memorised the menu and the management knows me and my family by name. I also recently discovered that the owner is in fact a childhood friend from elementary school! (yes, Bahrain is a small, small place).
Since discovering it last April during my Easter break, I have been there more times than I can count. I’ve practically memorised the menu and the management knows me and my family by name. I also recently discovered that the owner is in fact a childhood friend from elementary school! (yes, Bahrain is a small, small place).
In any case, during one of my recent visits I tried the Pumpkin Kibbeh, which the waiter assured me was completely meat and dairy-free. It was unsurprisingly, delightful – little parcels of fragrant spinach chickpeas and walnuts covered in a slightly sweet and crisp coating of pumpkin and bulgur wheat. Although it wasn’t greasy at all – it was in fact deep fried, so I set about recreating a slightly healthier, baked version.
- 1 cup steamed and pureed pumpkin
- 1¼ cup wholewheat bulgur, cooked
- Spices: 1 tsp each of cumin powder, ground coriander, cinnamon, paprika + ½ a tsp of all spice
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 2-3 tbsp of warm water, mixed until gelled)
- FOR THE STUFFING
- 1 cup frozen (or 2-3 cups of tightly packed fresh) spinach
- 1 can (drained) or 1.5 cups of cooked chickpeas
- ¼ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp of sumac
- pinch of nutmeg
- canola oil or cooking spray
- Start by steaming the pumpkin and pureeing in a food processor or using a strong fork. Other recipes call for draining the pumpkin of its moisture overnight but a few minutes of pressing it in a sieve did the trick for me.
- Cook the bulgur as directed on the package and season – it shouldn’t take too long as bulgur is already parboiled so keep a steady eye on it and make sure it doesn’t go mushy.
- Combine the pumpkin, bulgur, spices, flax egg and olive oil in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. You should have a mixture that easily spread and not too crumbly. If it’s too “wet” add in a little more bulgur or even some breadcrumbs would do the trick.
- At this point, you’ll want to pre-heat your oven to 350 F/180 C, unless you plan on baking later.
- Now on to the stuffing! In a pan sauté the onions and garlic on medium heat in some olive oil or canola oil spray for 5-8 minutes until softened. Add in the chopped tomato followed by the spinach and stir through along with the sumac, nutmeg, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chickpeas (along with a little reserve water or vegetable stock if you feel the mixture getting dry – although this shouldn’t be the case if you’re using frozen spinach) and allow to simmer on low heat.
- In a separate pan, toast the walnuts for a few minutes, stirring frequently, then add to the rest of the spinach mixture.
- Now it’s time to assemble. Grease a medium sized pan/casserole dish with some canola oil spray and start to layer the bottom of the dish with the pumpkin crust. You ideally want to split the mixture between the top and bottom layer. Spoon the stuffing on top as evenly as possible and cover with the remaining crust mixture, smoothing out with a spatula as needed.
- Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper on top and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden
Served alongside a heaping salad of mixed greens, plum tomatoes and olives and fresh mint dressing, and a little soy yoghurt for dipping purposes.
While this recipe may seem a little daunting judging by the ingredient list, I assure you it’s pretty straightforward and the whole thing comes together in under 30 minutes. It’s also the kind of dish you could prep a day in advance and just pop in the oven for a weekday dinner.
The leftovers made for a fantastic packed lunch the next day – I’m not sure what it is but this kibbeh actually tastes better cold.
Simple, vegan, delicious, and waistline friendly – my kind of Lebanese food!