It feels like I have been away for so long. I write in my head all the time, but it doesn’t always make it to the blog. I’ve been meaning to share with you a squash Kibbe for a while, and now seems like the perfect time. The other day I found a beautiful Spaghetti Squash at the market which I couldn’t resist and I thought it would make the perfect Kibbe.
Kibbe is a very classic levantine dish. It’s typically made using ground beef or lamb and the method of cooking varies tremendously. It’s such a flexible mix that can be baked, fried, boiled, or eaten raw. Raw kibbe is in fact the cornerstone of a mezza, specifically a lebanese mezza. It’s super tasty and you have to make sure to tell your butcher that you will be using the meat raw. Only the freshest finely ground meat is used.
I read once that the perfect bite of anything is one that tickles all the sensations in the mouth: It would be crunchy and soft, savory and sweet, with a little spice and a little umami. My attempt at composing the perfect bite really came close in this unassuming savory pie.
I begin by peeling the squash, removing the seeds and chopping it in medium-sized cubes. I then place them on a baking sheets and drizzle some olive oil on top, then bake for approx. 15 minutes at 375’F. The texture should then become quite soft. Remove and slide into a mixing bowl. To the roasted squash, I add the burghul, kibbe spice, shallot, chili pepper, salt and pepper and mix everything together to get a homogeneous paste. Set aside until the filling is ready.
The filling is a scrumptious mix of bison, nuts and dried cranberries. I actually wanted to use raisins, but didn’t have any. So I replaced it with cranberries and it added the perfect sweet and sour note. Begin by toasting pine nuts, walnuts and pumpkin seeds over medium to low heat until a little color develops, around 5 minutes, shaking the pan around every so often to toast all sides. Set aside in a mixing bowl. In the same pan, sautee the ground bison with a half teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper in a little olive oil. Once ready, pour over the nuts. In the same sautee pan , sautee the finely chopped onions until translucent, pour over the nuts and bison, add the hydrated cranberries or raisins if you prefer, pomegranate molasses, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice berries, salt and pepper. Mix the filling well to incorporate all the spices. Taste and adjust seasoning at this point prior to assembling the kibbe.
Assemble the pie in a deep baking pan. Brush the bottom with a little olive oil and place a layer on the squash and burghul mix on the bottom, pressing it flat and adjust the thickness equally. Over the squash layer, scoop the filling mixture and spread it to cover the entire surface. Cover the filling with another layer of the squash and burghul mixture. Again pressing gently to spread it all over the surface to cover the filling. The squash mixture tends to be a little sticky. Don’t over work it. If you are using your hands to spread it, keep them moist with a little water or olive oil. Bake covered at 400’F for 25 minutes, then uncovered for another 5-7 minutes to develop a little crust on top. Serve warm with salad or yogurt.
Spaghetti Squash Kibbe
1 medium size spaghetti squash
1 cup fine burghul (#1)
3 tsp kibbe spice
1/4 cup shallots, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
Pinch of ground chili pepper (optional)
1/2 lb bison, ground
1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds, raw
3 tbsp cranberries, dried
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coriander, ground
1 tsp allspice berries, ground
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg