Happy Valentine’s Day: Butternut Squash Kibbeh
I just LOVE Valentine’s day! What better time to show your sweetie how much you care about them! I spent most of the day decorating the apartment with pink and red crepe paper and singing along to my favorite love songs, but I also took time to make dinner. Earlier in the week I planned to use some small heart-shaped cake pans that we never use to make cupcakes, but as usually happens with my plans to make sweets when the time came around I just didn’t have the heart. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t use the pans:
Butternut squash kibbeh, from Ana Sortun’s Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, is highly moldable for all your holiday novelty-dish needs. It’s also a great way to use butternut squash in the winter that is (Minneapolis restauranteurs take note) NOT butternut squash ravioli/pasta. For those not familiar, kibbeh is a Levantine/Middle Eastern dish of bulghur wheat mixed with meat (usually lamb) that is eaten raw, baked, or fried. I think it is best fried, but I have never eaten it raw. For this version, butternut squash takes the place of lamb as the principle binder of the bulghur. And while you can’t see it in the picture, this heart is stuffed with spiced feta. I am not a big fan of butternut squash because I think it is too sweet and too smooth-textured, but here the cracked wheat helps with both of those issues by giving the mixture a more grainy texture and diluting the sweetness of the squash.
Here’s the recipe:
Stuffed Butternut Squash Kibbeh
- 3# Squash
- 4 T beurre noisette
- 1 onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 2 t paprika
- 1 t Middle Eastern five spice
- 1 1/2 c bulghur or cracked wheat
- 1/2# Feta
- 1/2 t Middle Eastern five spice
- 1/2 t sumac (or more – the more sumac the better!)
- 1/2 t Aleppo pepper
- 2 T chopped parsley
Roast the squash until it’s soft, then puree it in the food processor until it is smooth and creamy. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook the onion and pepper in olive oil until softened and starting to brown, then stir in the paprika and five spice. Cook for a minute. Add the squash puree and warm through. Stir in the bulghur, cover, and turn off the heat. Let sit 15 minutes while the bulghur softens up.
For the filling, mix the (crumbled) feta with all the other ingredients.
To assemble, pack the kibbeh mixture into your desired vessel (for example, a heart-shaped cake pan). Hollow out an indentation and fill it with the feta mixture, then cover with more kibbeh as needed. Bake in 375° oven for 15 minutes. Turn kibbeh out on to a plate (I hope you remembered to grease those vessels, because I sure didn’t remind you!). Garnish with a bit of the feta mixture and maybe some chopped parsley.
We had this with muhammara (it’s red like hearts GET IT?) and pita. Not bad for a Valentine’s day.