Pumpkin kibbeh stuffed with feta & spinach

Pumpkin kibbeh stuffed with feta & spinach

By
From
New Feast
Makes
12
Photographer
Alan Benson

This is a vegetable version of the famous torpedo-shaped kibbeh, so beloved by Lebanese restaurants. In Greg’s family, as is common in Middle Eastern Christian communities, vegetable kibbeh are often served during Lent, when people reduce their meat consumption. They are most often made with mashed potato, but we find that butternut pumpkin (squash) works beautifully as well.

When it comes to the filling, be as imaginative as you like! Use the spinach mixture below as a base and add other flavours, depending on what you have to hand. We’ve been known to use feta, haloumi, goat’s cheese or mozzarella, as well as flavoured butters.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

Kibbeh shell

Quantity Ingredient
450g butternut pumpkin
salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
100g fine bulgur wheat
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tahini, well stirred
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
greek-style yoghurt, to serve
extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Feta & spinach filling

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely diced
100g spinach leaves, stalks removed
salt
freshly ground black pepper
feta or your choice of melting white cheese
or Savoury butters

Method

  1. Make the kibbeh shell first. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the pumpkin into chunks and arrange in a small roasting tin. Toss with salt, pepper and a generous splash of olive oil. Cover with foil and roast for 25–30 minutes, or until very tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  2. While the pumpkin is cooling, soak the bulgur wheat in warm water for 5 minutes. Tip into a sieve and, using your hands, squeeze out as much water as you can. Then tip into a tea towel and twist to extract even more water. When it’s as dry as you can manage, tip it into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Slice away the skin from the pumpkin and weigh out 250 g of flesh. Add it to the bowl with the bulgur wheat and mash the two together to form a smooth puree. Add the onion, tahini, flour and spices and season generously with salt and pepper. Knead with your hands until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Chill for at least 30 minutes, which will make the paste easier to work with.
  4. To make the filling, heat the oil and butter in a medium frying pan and add the onion. Sweat for 5–10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the spinach leaves and stir over the heat, turning it around frequently, until it wilts. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Season with salt and pepper then chop finely.
  5. When you are ready to make the kibbeh, divide the shell mixture into 12 even portions. Take one portion in the palm of your left hand and roll it smooth with the other hand. Using the forefinger of your right hand, make an indentation in the ball and start to shape it carefully into a hollow shell. Try to make the shell as thin and even as you can. Wet your finger from time to time, to make it easier.
  6. Fill the shell with a scant teaspoon of the spinach filling, together with a small cube of feta or your choice of flavoured butter. Add another pinch of spinach, then wet the edges of the opening and carefully pinch it closed. Make sure you don’t trap any air inside. You are aiming to form a small torpedo-shaped dumpling, with slightly tapered ends. Repeat with the remaining mixture and filling.
  7. Leave the stuffed kibbeh on a tray in the fridge, covered, for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours, until you are ready to cook them.
  8. When ready to cook, pour vegetable oil into a medium, heavy-based saucepan to a depth of about 6 cm and heat to 180°C. Fry the kibbeh, a few at a time, for 4–5 minutes, or until they turn a deep golden brown. Turn them around in the oil to ensure they colour evenly all over. Drain them on kitchen paper and serve piping hot with a dollop of yoghurt and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Note:

  • If you don’t have a candy thermometer, the oil will have reached the correct temperature when it is shimmering, and when a cube of bread sizzles slowly to the surface and turns a pale golden brown in about 30–40 seconds.
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