Recipe – Baked Vegetarian Kibbeh

Baked Vegetarian Kibbeh - platter
I love the classic torpedo-shaped balls of kibbeh that often appear as part of Lebanese mezze – but baked kibbeh (kibbeh bil sanieh) is more popular as a family meal and much quicker to make. This vegetarian kibbeh is slightly crumblier than the one made with minced lamb, but just as delicious. Finely shaved red cabbage is often used as a vegetarian filling for kibbeh, I replace it with radicchio because I like the way its bitterness contrasts with the sweet caramelised onion and tart barberries, but you could use cabbage if you prefer. Delatite Hell’s Window rosé, a naturally fermented blend of gewürztraminer, pinot gris and riesling with a slight spritz, makes a great accompaniment.

Serves 6

  • 200g fine burghul
  • 1 large floury potato (about 300g), peeled and diced
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 400g canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, coarsely ground
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • Chopped Salad, for serving
  • Plain natural yoghurt, for serving (optional) 

Radicchio Filling

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • Salt flakes, to taste
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups finely shredded radicchio, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons barberries
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Place burghul in a large bowl, cover with plenty of boiling water, cover and set aside.
  3. Boil potato in salted water for about 10 minutes, until tender. Drain and roughly mash.
  4. Make Radicchio Filling: heat oil in a frying pan, add onion and a good pinch of salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until starting to colour. Stir in pine nuts, radicchio and barberries and cook for a couple more minutes, until radicchio is wilted. Set aside.
  5. Place potato, onion, chickpeas, cumin, allspice, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  6. Drain burghul in a sieve, pressing well to remove excess water.
  7. Add to the bowl and, using your hands, mix very well to form a coarse paste.
  8. Brush the base and sides of a baking dish well with oil.
  9. Spread half the burghul mixture evenly over the base of the dish, pressing it down firmly.
  10. Spread Radicchio Filling evenly over the top.
  11. Dot remaining burghul mixture over the filling and gently press it down to form a smooth layer.
  12. Drizzle with oil and brush it evenly over the top.
  13. Using a sharp knife, mark diagonal lines on the top to create a diamond pattern.
  14. Place in oven for 40-45 minutes, until well-coloured, turning the overhead grill on for the last few minutes if necessary.
  15. Using the diamond pattern as a guide, cut kibbeh into pieces, arrange on a platter and serve with Chopped Salad and yoghurt (if using). 

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