This pumpkin kibbeh pie is the quintessential village pie, where folks make do with what they have and what their traditions dictate. It appears around Fall when all the farmers display their various pumpkins on the side of the roads, and is also made when fasting is in order.
Growing-up in Beirut I never knew about it, and only discovered it when I moved to the Chouf Mountains and became familiar with the local folks and their cuisine. The traditional filling I have seen used consists of chopped leafy greens such as Swiss chard sautéed in a pan first with onions and some chopped walnuts or chickpeas (walnuts are more expensive so chickpeas are used more frequently); the filling gets doused with sumac which is everywhere in the mountains and gets harvested wild, dried and ground by local folks for their yearly mouneh (pantry supplies). Sumac is used because it adds a nice tangy flavor to the pie. Feel free to use it if you have some or replace it with a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Pumpkin kibbeh pieJoumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern November 13, 2020 Whole Grain/Bulgur/Rice, Main Dish, Vegan, vegan, kibbeh, Vegan Kibbe, pumpkin, bulgur, lebanese food,
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
1 medium-size pumpkin, about 4 lbs (to yield 3 cups of cooked pumpkin pulp), baked whole in a 350F oven for one hour or until soft
2 large red or yellow onions, peeled and chopped fine (divided between the kibbeh and the stuffing)
1 1/4 cup bulgur extra fine #1 (yellow or brown)
1 large bunch kale (or Swiss chard or other greens of your choice)
1 cup (or more) of toasted or raw nuts (toasted or fried would taste richer), such as pine nuts, chopped walnuts or pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (as needed, if the dough is too wet or loose); can substitute breadcrumbs or semolina flour
3/4 cup olive oil or clarified butter or ghee melted
Spice mix: For the kibbeh: 1 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp turmeric, 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 3/4 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp black or white pepper, 1/4 tsp fenugreek (optional).
For the filling: 1 Tbsp (or more to taste) of sumac, 1 tsp salt, a pinch of sugar and 1 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses
Lemons, quartered (2 or 3)
Tahini-yogurt sauce ingredients:
1 large lemon, juiced
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup plain Greek or Bulgarian style yogurt if possible (or Lebanese-style of course)
1 tsp garlic mashed with salt (to taste)
- Place the pumpkin whole in a preheated 350F oven on a baking sheet and bake it for one hour or until it gets soft and cooked. One way to test it is to insert a knife and see if it goes in easily.
- Transfer the cooked pumpkin onto a cutting board and start chopping it up, keeping the seeds on one side and the pulp on the other. Transfer the pulp onto a bowl and mash a bit.
- Add the bulgur on top of the pumpkin (after measuring the pumpkin, if you get 3 cups of pumpkin then 1 1/4 cup of bulgur is enough (unless you prefer it to be more bulgur and less pumpkin). Mix the pumpkin and bulgur with a spoon and cover; the bulgur will absorb the water in the pumpkin in a couple hours or overnight. (Leave the mixture covered in the fridge overnight).
- Cook the filling: panfry the onions (leave about 1/2 cup for the kibbeh) in some olive oil until browned or at least golden and add the chopped kale and stir fry until the kale softens; if necessary, add a couple tablespoons of water. Make sure any water evaporates before adding it onto the pumpkin kibbeh so that it does not get soggy. Add the pomegranate molasses and salt and nuts if desired. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
- Now season the pumpkin kibbeh by adding the finely chopped onion and all the spices and tasting. Add some flour gradually to the dough if it feels too wet and stir gently to combine.
- Line a pie plate with parchment paper or grease the plate and apply the kibbeh directly onto the plate. Divide the dough in half and apply the one half evenly at the bottom. Top with the filling. Apply the second half (flatten lumps of dough and apply them onto the filling side by side).
- Score the kibbeh and press to form a tiny hole in the middle (you can insert the tip of the pumpkin or some other veggie like a bell pepper in the hole for decorative purposes). Pour the olive oil or some melted ghee over the kibbeh and bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until it is warm throughout and the top looks shiny and dry. Serve immediately with the tahini-yogurt sauce on the side or simply some quartered lemons to squeeze on top of the warm kibbeh.
The olive oil can be replaced by clarified butter or ghee, which is wonderful paired with pumpkin.
Instead of adding the onion to the kibbeh chopped up, it is best to grate it, or even replace it with some onion powder; the advantage here is that the onion powder will add some flavor but not water. I would start with about 2 tablespoons of onion powder and adjust to taste.
The spice mix can be adjusted to reflect your taste buds; pumpkin can be accommodated with a variety of spices.
Instead of adding a shredded onion to the kibbeh mixture, try adding some powdered onion (about 1 or 2 tablespoons).
The tahini-yogurt sauce is easy to make: just pour some tahini in a bowl, add the mashed garlic (mash it in a mortar), and the lemon juice, and stir, and then add the yogurt; you may need to add enough water to make it smooth and creamy (about 1/2 cup or so). Taste a bit and adjust salt or garlic or lemon or tahini, to your taste.
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