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Pumpkin Kibbeh (Kebbet Laa'tin)
“"Kibbeh" describes dishes made with bulgur, onions and spices. That mixture is combined with everything from tomatoes to goat. It's layered and baked, shaped into balls or footballs, stuffed, deep-fried or eaten raw. This vegetarian kibbeh recipe is made with pumpkin and stuffed with seasoned greens. Sorrel adds a lemony flavor, but you can use chard or kale and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the filling. Use fine bulgur or the texture of the dough will be gritty.”
2¼ pounds pie pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 6 cups)
1½ cups fine bulgur (see Tips)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, grated
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh marjoram
1¼ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups lightly packed finely chopped sorrel, chard or kale
1½ teaspoons ground sumac (see Tips)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baharat spice blend (see Tips)
12 cups canola or corn oil
1Place chickpeas for stuffing in a bowl. Add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches; let soak for 8 to 24 hours. (Alternatively, place chickpeas in a large saucepan and cover with 3 inches cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let stand for 1 hour.)
2To prepare dough: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add pumpkin (or squash) and cook until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Mash, then immediately add bulgur and flour; mix well. Mix in grated onion, basil, orange and lemon zest, marjoram and 1¼ teaspoons salt. When cool enough to handle, knead well to combine. Set aside.
3To prepare stuffing: Meanwhile, drain the chickpeas, rub off the skins and break the chickpeas in half. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chickpeas and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
4Thoroughly dry the large pot. Add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add greens; cook, stirring, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the drained chickpeas, sumac, salt and baharat. Transfer to a bowl. Wash and dry the pot.
5With wet hands, shape 2 tablespoons of the dough into a ball. Hold it in the palm of your left hand and use your right thumb to press into the center of the dough to make a little bowl. (See Tips.) Put about 1 teaspoon stuffing in the middle and close the dough over it. Shape the kibbeh like a football and smooth it with wet fingers. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and stuffing. After you have about half of the kibbeh shaped, heat canola (or corn) oil in the large pot over medium heat to 350°F. (It takes about 20 minutes to heat the oil.) Continue shaping the kibbeh to make about 32 total.
6Line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towels. You're going to fry the kibbeh in 4 batches. Add one-fourth of them to the hot oil and cook, turning once or twice, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Return the oil to 350°F between batches. Serve the kibbeh at room temperature.
To make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Tips: Bulgur: This quick-cooking whole grain is made by parboiling, drying and grinding or cracking wheat berries. It can be fine or coarse—you'll need the fine grind for this recipe. Use it up: Make tabbouleh or use it as your grain-bowl base.
Sumac: The ground tart red berries of the Mediterranean sumac bush add fruity, sour flavor. Use it up: Garnish hummus or baba ghanoush; add to a tomato and cucumber salad.
Baharat: A popular Middle Eastern spice blend whose flavor can range from sweet to floral to spicy. To make Lior Lev Sercarz's Baharat Blend, combine: 2½ Tbsp. allspice berries, toasted and ground; 2 Tbsp. ground ginger; 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese; 2 Tbsp. rosebuds, ground; 1 tsp. black peppercorns, ground; 1 tsp. caraway seeds, toasted and ground. Use it up: Mix into ground lamb for burgers; sprinkle over tzatziki.
To shape kibbeh: With wet hands, shape 2 Tbsp. of dough into a ball. Place the ball in your hand. Press into the center of the dough with your thumb to make it a bowl. Put about 1 tsp. stuffing in the middle; close the dough over it. Shape the kibbeh into a football shape, smoothing with wet fingers.