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Kibbeh is a traditional Lebanese dish made of bulgur wheat (cracked wheat), minced onions, pine nuts, finely ground lean beef or lamb, and Middle-Eastern spices. It is often described as “Lebanese meatloaf”. In this meat-free version, sautéed mushrooms, chickpeas, and chopped nuts take the place of meat. This savory dish serves a big crowd, making it the perfect addition to cookouts.

Kibbeh: Lebanese Meatloaf [Vegan]

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16 squares

Ingredients You Need for Kibbeh: Lebanese Meatloaf [Vegan]

For the Upper and Lower Crust:
  • 2.2 pounds whole butternut squash with skin, chopped in 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
  • Olive oil, for roasting the squash
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 1/2 cups fine bulgur wheat, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, roasted seeds or powdered (option)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Stuffing:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil for frying/sautéing
  • 1 medium cooking onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed and skins discarded
  • 1 cup brown button mushrooms, diced (or diced zucchini with skin)
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, strained and rinsed thoroughly in cold water
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed, chopped small
  • 1 bunch of fresh flat parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1/3 cup smoked tofu, crumbled or grated
  • 4 handfuls of spinach leaves, washed, spun and roughly chopped or torn
  • Salt and ground pepper, to taste

How to Prepare Kibbeh: Lebanese Meatloaf [Vegan]

To Make the Crust:
  1. For the crust, preheat oven to 430°F. Put chopped squash cubes in a bowl and drizzle some olive oil, salt, and pepper and mix well with clean hands until the cubes are evenly coated with oil. Pour and spread the cubes onto a baking tray and roast in preheated oven, turning the cubes from time to time, for 25-30 minutes. The cubes will shrink and turn golden and soft.
  2. While the squash is roasting, you can measure and prepare all your ingredients for the filling.
  3. When the squash is done, remove it and reduce your oven to 375°F – this is to prepare your oven for baking the kibbeh dish later.
  4. Pour the roasted squash cubes into a bowl and add the onions. Process this directly in the bowl with a handheld blender until smooth. While the squash mixture is still hot, immediately add the bulgur wheat. The hot squash will soften the wheat (so there’s no need to boil or cook it!). Add and mix by hand the flour, cumin, salt and olive oil. Knead the dough by hand a little. Let this sit for 20 minutes. It will expand.

To Make the Filling:

  1. On the stovetop, heat a small skillet (with no oil), add the pine nuts or walnuts and keep stirring on medium-high heat for 2 minutes or so, until the nuts are golden and fragrant. Put in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large deep skillet, heat up the olive oil and reduce heat to medium-high. Add the onions with the garlic; reduce heat and sauté for 5-8 minutes until onions are soft. Add the mushrooms and sauté again for another 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and nuts with the sumac, cayenne pepper, thyme, dill, and parsley and sauté again for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and mix. Add the tofu and turn and mix until melted. Add the spinach and turn and mix. Put a lid on the pan and on low heat, let the spinach wilt and shrink while gently turning the ingredients from time to time. When the spinach has shrunk sufficiently, add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

To Assemble:

  1. Oil and flour a 9x13x2-inch rectangular pan (or a pan similar to this). With clean hands, knead the crust dough and form a large ball. Normally, the dough handles very well, but if you find it’s too dry, add a bit of water or too moist, add a bit of flour. Also, it handles better with cool wet hands, so from time to time, rinse your hands with cool water.
  2. Divide the dough ball in two parts with a knife. Use half of the dough to make the lower crust. The best way is to put small balls of dough, here and there in the bottom of the pan and pat and spread these firmly until you have a uniform layer. It should measure about 1/4-inch thick. Add the stuffing with a slotted spoon and spread this evenly on top of the dough, pressing the filling down so that it is tight and firm. Add the top crust on top of the filling, again by putting small balls of dough throughout – pressing, patting and spreading them until you have a solid and even top crust. Don’t forget to cool your hands with water in the process.
  3. When done, brush the top crust with olive oil. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the sides turn golden. Let stand on a rack for 15 minutes before slicing.
  4. When cooled, store the kibbeh pan in refrigerator covered with aluminium foil. It slices beautifully when it’s cold and you can reheat it in oven on a low heat 300°F or just zap some portions in a microwave.
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Nutritional Information

Per Serving: Calories: 207 | Carbs: 25 g | Fat: 10 g | Protein: 5 g | Sodium: 151 mg | Sugar: 1 g

Note: The information shown is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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    1. You can replace smoked tofu with any kind of vegan cheese or with a hard cheese (grated) if you are not vegan. I buy my Sumac in a Lebanese food store here in France. If you can\’t find it in supermarkets, you might want to look in Middle Easter food stores or specialty spice shops. It\’s a shame that it\’s hard to find because it is so delicious.