Adapted from Levant by Rawia Bishara

I grew up on Kubbeh (pronounced Kibbeh by Syrian Jews, but Kubbeh in my childhood home). Kubbeh is wonderful, they are in most cases a small torpedo-shaped bulgar encased meat filling that is fried and served hot. In an attempt to find a recipe that was easier to make and vegan I came across Rawia Bishara’s recipe for baked Pumpkin Kibbeh. It is a revelation to have bulgur that isn’t tabouleh or fried in a kubbeh, it’s not just a delicious and easy to make dish, filled with chickpeas spinach and pistachios, it is beautiful to look at and happily vegan without compromising on taste in any way.

Bulgar layers

  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 340g (2 cups (approx) extra-fine ground bulgur wheat
  • 1 tin (can) 425g (14oz) pumpkin puree
  • 30g (4 tablespoons) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 20g (a little less than ½ cup) panko crumbs (or breadcrumbs)
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Filling
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large (2 small) onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tin (can) 400g (14oz) chickpeas
  • 100g (⅔ cup) shelled pistachios roughly chopped
  • Half small bunch (10g) fresh coriander, chopped
  • 220g (8 oz) baby spinach (washed well, checked, and if possible dried in a salad spinner)
  1. To make the bulgar layers: In the large bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment, add the chopped onion and process until liquified. Add the remaining bulgur layer ingredients, save the salt and pepper. Pulse the mixture a few times, test if ready by opening up the machine, and checking if the mixture holds together when pressed, if not, pulse a few more times. Season with salt and pepper and knead together, set aside.

  2. Make the filling: In a large saute pan heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onions and fry until the onions are very soft and starting to turn golden. Season the onions with sumac, cumin, pepper, allspice, and nutmeg, cook for a further 30 seconds until fragrant.

  3. Add the chickpeas, pistachios, and coriander, stir until everything is well coated in spices. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. Take the pan off the heat and season with salt to taste.

  4. To Assemble; Heat oven to 180℃ (350℉). Divide the bulgur into two equal portions. Grease the bottom and sides of a 20 or 23cm (8 or 9inch) square baking tin or oven-safe dish with olive oil. Press half the bulgur mixture into the bottom of the dish and partially up the sides of the dish (you may need to wet your hands to keep the mixture from sticking). Spread the spinach filling evenly over the bulgar layer. Top with the remaining bulgur, I find the easiest way to do this is to flatten out spoonfuls of the mixture between your hands and then place it like a patchwork over the spinach mixture. Score the top of the bulgar lightly.

  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until set on top. Serve with ready-made tahini.