I drew a blank when trying to come up with a “centrepiece” for my Lebanese lunch menu. I enjoy so many vegetarian dishes at Middle-Eastern restaurants but most are salads, dips and breads. So I turned to the internet and a few clicks away were recipes for meat-free kibbe–perfect! Filling, flavourful and special in appearance too, all golden and presented family-style in a casserole dish. There were a few things I changed in the recipe I found, to make it less crumbly and to scale it down but I was grateful for something authentically spiced, delicious, comforting and just the thing to make the centre of a Lebanese spread.
*I made some tweaks to the original recipe: I halved the major ingredients (I found the recipe served twice as many as suggested) and used less oil than called for, but used more spices for flavour and more potato to bind. The author’s Lebanese 7-spice powder is equal parts ground ginger, all-spice, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and fenugreek. It’s also used in their tabbouleh recipe which I loved, so it’s worth mixing a small batch which you can keep for future use too.
The author notes that the kibbe can last for a few days covered in the fridge. If you make extra dough, you can place the surplus in ziplog plastic bags and store in the freezer for a few months. To cook, thaw at room temperature for a few hours then follow the baking process.
1 cups dried yellow split chickpeas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 cups of Burghul (cracked wheat/bulgur)
2 large potatoes, boiled, mashed
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 bunch parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
1/2 bunch mint, leaves only, finely chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon Lebanese 7-spices*
2/3 teaspoon of salt
Rinse the burghul with water, let dry for 30 minutes and add to a bowl with the remaining ingredients except for the oil. Mix and knead well with your hands for a few minutes until the ingredient for a sort of rough dough.
Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Oil a 9X11 (or approximate size) casserole dish. Transfer dough to dish and pat it down to roughly 2/3-inch thickness. Lightly oil the blade of a knife and cut deep lines into the dough to form square or diamond shapes. Then makes small cuts in the center of each square. The purpose of this is to allow the olive oil to seep through the dough and make it easy to cut when cooked.
Drizzle about 1/2 cup of olive oil or more in a thin stream over the top of the kibbe and down through the cuts to “soak” it evenly. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the dough turns brown and a bit crispy. Enjoy it hot or cold.