When most people think of kibbe, they think of the traditional lamb-shaped football, deep fried and stuffed with savory nuts and meat. However, when I first heard of a kibbe recipe using pumpkin, I was so excited! I realized not only are there so many recipes for meatless kibbe, but that it is not just some hippie-Western fad but indeed a Middle Eastern tradition. I found out that it is common in Lebanon to make meatless kibbe during Lent, which traditionally requires abstinence from meat.
The fall is the perfect season to make a pumpkin dish, as this is the season for them in the U.S. The bright orange color of pumpkins indicates that it is strong in beta-carotene. Research indicates that foods rich in beta carotene (which converts to Vitamin A in the body) may reduce the risk of certain cancers, particularly prostate cancer, and can protect against heart disease. Even the seeds have strong nutritional value. Although in the Middle East “Halloween” shaped pumpkins can be quite expensive, I have found some small local “pumpkins” that are very affordable. Pumpkin in Arabic is referred to as laqteen, la’teen, yaqteen, and probably a million other versions as well!
Our midEATS guest blogger this week, Hiba Ghalib Jabri, shares a recipe she adapted from the site Taste of Beirut. She is a dear friend of mine, and I have known her since we were in elementary school. Also a lawyer, she has a beautiful family of 5, mashAllah. Although we live continents away, I am always inspired by Hiba’s amazing culinary talent, as she posts amazing pictures of her dishes on Facebook. I hope this is only the first of her guest posts on midEATS!
– Brenda of midEATS
Kibbe Laqteen (Pumpkin Kibbe)
Our family has been trying to reduce our red-meat consumption and increase our vegetable intake. I love experimenting with new vegetables and using old ones in new ways. I made this twice during Ramadan and took it to potluck iftaar dinners. Both times, it was a hit and nobody missed the meat! Even picky kids liked it! I would imagine if they were shaped into traditional kibbe spheres and fried then they may have been even more popular.
This pumpkin kibbe recipe is healthy, easy, and different, with a touch of traditional Middle Eastern flair. I was inspired by a version of pumpkin kibbe that I came across on the site Taste of Beirut. I made a few tweaks here and there, and it is delicious. But, here is the thing. There is the shortcut version, and then there is the better version. The shortcut uses canned pumpkin and frozen vegetables. The better version uses fresh ingredients but takes a bit of time. If you have access to the fresh ingredients and some spare time, it is definitely worth trying the original recipe and saving the cans and frozen veggies for when you’re in a real time crunch.
Also, one thing I’ve learned is I hate sticking to a recipe. And this is one that allows me that liberty of changing it up. Feel free to do the same. If you like garbanzo beans, by all means, add more. If you prefer butternut squash over pumpkin, why not? In other words, there are no rules. Get inspired by the essence of this recipe, then take it and make it yours!
Kibbe Laqteen (Pumpkin Kibbe)
Adapted from Taste of Beirut
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min (and you can easily prepare this ahead and cook later)
2 large onions, chopped finely
2 to 3 cups cooked garbanzo beans/chickpeas (or 1-2 cans)
3 tbsp sumac
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts (or both)
1 pound greens (turnip, arugula, spinach, kale, swiss chard, etc. that can be either fresh or frozen. This time, I used swiss chard, kale, and spinach.)
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional)
2 pounds cooked pumpkin (2 small pie pumpkins or 1 large can , 32oz-ish, pumpkin puree. NOT canned pumpkin pie mix which is sweet)
3 tbsp bread crumbs or whole wheat flour
2 eggs (optional)
2 cups fine burghul wheat (soaked in hot water for just a few minutes, then rinsed and drained)
3 tbsp roasted red pepper paste (optional)
1 tsp each of paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, sea salt, white pepper
2-3 tbsp clarified butter or olive oil
(1) First, if you are using fresh pumpkin, you need to cook it (either in the oven or microwave) by simply scooping out the flesh with a spoon. Click here for more info on how to cook a pumpkin.
(2) Drain the pumpkin in a sieve for a few hours to get rid of the excess liquid. (Be sure to save the pumpkin water for other recipes, such as for baking or soups.)
(3) Preheat the oven to 350F.
For the filling:
(1) Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the chopped onions until caramelized. Set aside about half of the sautéed onions in a large mixing bowl.
(2) Add the greens to the pan with the remaining sautéed onions and continue to cook over medium heat for a few minutes, just long enough for them to wilt. You may need to add a little water so your greens steam and don’t stick to your pan. (You can always steam the greens separately then add it to your filling mix, but I like to use the same pan just to save on dishes to wash.)
(3) Once the greens have wilted, turn off the heat, and add the chickpeas, nuts, sumac, salt/pepper, and pomegranate molasses (if using).
(1) In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, with the drained burghul. Add the paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, sea salt, and white pepper.
(2) Add to the kibbe dough, the breadcrumbs or flour, the eggs and pepper paste (if using). Blend well.
(1) Press about half the dough into a greased pan (about 9×13 inch or 13 inch round. The larger the pan, the thinner your kibbe.)
(2) Spoon the filling onto your pan.
(3) Press on the remaining dough on top of the filling. Sometimes it is easier to do small sections at a time, then pinch the sections together and smooth it out.
(4) Slice your kibbe. Decorate the top of each slice with a pine nut if you like, and dot the top with ghee, butter or oil (or nothing at all, this time I forgot and it still tasted good!).
(5) Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it starts to turn a golden brown color. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I served with curry butternut squash soup and a green salad. It also pairs well with yogurt and coriander chutney.
Hiba is an immigration attorney and partner of AMAL Law Group with offices in Chicago and Atlanta. She is active in her community of Atlanta, Georgia and enjoys entertaining, photography, and reading. However, one of Hiba’s favorite pastimes is baking and cooking, as it combines art, science, and the end result is a nutritious, tasty, serving of love. She loves to try new foods and gourmet ingredients.
While Hiba has always been a self-proclaimed “foodie”, it wasn’t until her Food Law class in graduate school, and subsequently having children of her own, that she began to take an interest in exploring the origins of different foods and healthy recipes that highlight them from all over the world. Hiba’s parents immigrated from Iraq in 1980, and while she grew up with mostly traditional Middle Eastern home cooking, there was always a flair of fusion with other cultures in their meals. Since Hiba’s husband is Syrian, she has also learned recipes from Syria and Turkey and continues to “marry” the different cultures on her family’s dinner table just as her mother did.
Hiba is passionate about healthy eating and doesn’t believe children are inherently picky eaters. Hiba likes to involve her young children in the preparation and cooking of their own meals, and finds that helps them not only feel proud and confident about their creation, but also encourages healthy eating habits at an early age. Lastly, Hiba believes there is no excuse to trash good food. If you plan ahead, and educate your family about the source of their meals as well as involve them in the preparation so they are not as picky, she believes we can greatly reduce our food waste as well as enjoy quality meals with our loved ones.