Kibbeh (Borderline Paleo)

Kibbeh 2

This is basically  the official food of Lebanon.  There are two main forms of kibbeh: the most popular is cooked flat in a pan and cut into diamonds to serve.  These football shapes are the other, but they are typically deep-fried.  I don’t have a fry-daddy or any type of deep-fryer, so I hate deep frying.  Because of that, I basically bake most things that are typically deep fried.

Anyway, the reason I say these are “borderline” paleo or primal is the burghul.  Burghul is dried cracked wheat, in case you didn’t know.  Typically that would be off limits; however, according to MARK SISSON, if you’re going to occasionally have grains, a less-processed, soaked or sprouted grain would be the best option.  So…do with that what you will.  The burghul is soaked for 30 minutes to an hour, so I consider this to be a decent option for when you just need some kibbeh!  And trust me, once you have good kibbeh, you’ll occasionally just crave it.

Finally, I will be TERRIBLE at explaining how to make these torpedo/football shaped kibbeh, so I’ll just let this video show you how! 

Kibbeh (Borderline Paleo/Primal)

Serves 6-10, depending on the size

2 pounds ground beef/lamb/or mixture of both–if you do all lamb, it’ll be pretty gamey

1 1/3 C burghul (also called bulgur)

1 1/2 tsp salt, divided

1 1/2 tsp pepper, divided

1 1/2-2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cumin (or 1 tsp 7-spice)

2 onions, finely diced

1/2 C pine nuts

olive oil

Kibbeh 5

1.- In medium bowl, soak burghul for 30-60 minutes in approximately 1/3-1/2 C cold water.  Fluff it with a fork like couscous to spread the water around.  You don’t want it floating, but just enough to expand the wheat groat.  If it needs draining at the end of the 30-60 minutes, press it on cheesecloth over a fine mesh sieve.  Place in medium bowl and mix with 1 pound of meat, 1 onion, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper.  You can either work this really well with your hands, or process it in a food processor.  You’re going for a dough that looks mostly like this (this actually could have been mixed better):

Kibbeh 4

Set aside.

2.- Preheat oven to 425.  In large skillet, saute 1 onion in olive oil.  Add pine nuts and toss a few seconds.  Add 1 pound of meat, all spice, salt, pepper, and cumin (or 7 spice).  Brown and remove from skillet.

3.- Form shell with burghul mixture, press a hole, add a spoonful of filling, close shell, and smooth with cold water on hands.  Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and brush both sides of kibbeh with olive oil.  Bake for 15-30 minutes, depending on size.  You want them to be a deep golden brown.

 

Lebanese Majoun (Paleo)

Lebanese Majoun

There is a snack/dessert-type ball that is sold on basically every street corner in Morocco.  Seriously, you can buy them everywhere.  It’s called majoun.  It’s the most popular way to eat marijuana–or other assorted drugs.  With a 3-year old in the house (and with it being illegal, expensive, and generally not conducive to the lifestyle I currently have), I don’t make these with marijuana in them.  I know, shocking right?  But they are seriously delicious without the weed.  IDK, if that’s a deal-breaker for you, dump in the weed to your heart’s content.

I made them this time with sesame seeds to coat the outside–you could also use grated coconut or ground pistachios if you wanted to.  Also, you can make them with any one (or combination of) of these dried fruits: raisins, pitted medjool dates, or figs.  All three of them work well.  I’ve found that they turn out the sweetest with the dates, but some people think they’re sweeter with raisins.

Seven Spice

Finally, these are traditionally made with Ras el Hanout; however, I didn’t feel like making any…so I changed it up with Lebanese Seven Spice.  You probably won’t find this in the regular grocery store, but I found it at the Arabic grocery store here.  On the flip side, you will find 9000 variations of a recipe for it if you want to make it yourself.  The exact spices will vary based on what part of Lebanon the recipe-writer is from.

Anyway, these are delicious dessert balls that happen to have the added bonus of giving you excellent energy!

Lebanese Majoun (Paleo)

Makes 25-30 balls

1 pound blanched almonds (or smoked natural almonds)

1/2 pound walnuts

1 to 1 1/4 pounds dried fruit (raisins, pitted medjool dates, or figs)

1 C raw, unfiltered honey

1/2 C Kerrygold butter

2 tsp Lebanese Seven Spice

2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2/3 – 3/4 C sesame seed (or grated coconut or ground pistachios)

 

1.- Pulse almonds, walnuts, and dried fruit in food processor until it forms a coarse, sticky mixture.  It’ll easily ball up.

2.- In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Add in honey, seven spice, ginger, and cinnamon.  Stir well.

3.- Add in nut and fruit mixture and stir until completely combined.  Take off heat and cool for 10-ish minutes.  Using gloves (or hands), form into balls, roll in sesame seeds, and place on a lined baking sheet to cool.

* I place the whole baking sheet in the fridge to cool for a couple hours and then remove the balls to an airtight container.  Store in the fridge for optimal longevity, though these won’t last long.  (Oh, and try one when they’re still warm–they’re AMAZE-BALLS)

Beef Kafta, Tabbouleh, and Batata Harra (Whole30 Compliant)

Beef Kafta

I’ve been reconnecting with my Lebanese roots through cuisine recently…and I think I’m going to continue at least through the end of the year.  Many of the dishes are already close to (if not fully) W30, paleo, or primal.  Well, at least half of them are.  Thirty percent of them are just hovering on the border (as in, they are entirely primal other than beans or lentils, or something like that).  The remaining 20 percent of them include hot, delicious, steaming loaves of pita bread.  To. Die. For.  I will eventually be making some, but I won’t include it as a main item on these blogs.  I’m really kind of teetering on the beans though: I mean, the husband is allergic to pretty much all beans except for maybe three types…so they will never be a “staple” in our household.  I’m thinking the occasional  inclusion of them isn’t a game-changer, but we’ll see.  I’m planning on a bean salad this week, so if I blow up after eating it, I’ll know I can’t include those anymore!  😛

Anyway, I’m still looking for the perfect Lebanese cookbook to use on my cooking journey.  I have a few in mind, but I want to look at a few of them at the store before I commit to one.  Besides Lebanese cooking, I also recently got a Turkish cookbook and a Moroccan cookbook.  All three countries have almost identical food, so that’s somewhat interesting.  A word on Lebanese food (or Middle Eastern food in general): if you don’t like the flavors of parsley, lemon, seven-spices, and natural yogurt, there is a lot of Middle Eastern food that you either (a) won’t like, or (b) will need to develop a taste for.  Just dropping that here as a warning!

Beef Kafta (Whole30 Compliant)

Serves 4

1 pound ground beef

1/4 C chopped parsley

1/4 C chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 Tbsp Aleppo pepper

1/2 tsp Lebanese 7-spices (or allspice)

1 1/4 tsp dried mint

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 small onion, finely diced (liquid pressed out)

salt and pepper

 

1.- In a large bowl, mix beef, parsley, tomatoes, aleppo, 7-spices, mint, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, onions, salt, and pepper.  Use your hands to mix thoroughly.

2.- At this point you can either form them into small logs and grill them on small skewers, or form them into small meatballs and bake or pan-fry them.

 

Tabbouleh, minus Bulgur (Whole30 Compliant)

Serves 4-6

1 C chopped parsley

1/2 C chopped mint

1/2 C chopped onion

4 Roma tomatoes, diced

1/4 C fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

 

1.- This one is easy.  Put everything in a bowl and mix it well.

 

Batata Harra (Whole30 Compliant)

Serves 4-6

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut in a 1/2″ dice

1 1/2 + 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp sea salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne (less if you don’t like a little kick to your food)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 C chopped cilantro

 

1.- Preheat oven to 450.  Peel potatoes and cut into a 1/2″ dice.  Toss them in a large bowl with 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp sea salt.  Toss to coat evenly and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Roast 40-45 minutes.  For even roasting, flip potatoes after 20-25 minutes–but this isn’t absolutely necessary if you forget about it or don’t have time.

2.- During the last 10 minutes of roasting, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and minced garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat and add cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper.  Stir together.

3.- In large bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil and garlic mixture.  Coat potatoes evenly.  After coated, mix in cilantro and serve immediately.  Caution: these potatoes are like crack.  You might want to make enough to have leftovers for a few days.

 

Greek Salad (Primal–or Whole30 Compliant without the feta)

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I’ve been struggling to come up with some new stuff lately–partially because I’ve been super busy, and partially because I haven’t been as motivated to create.  I’ve been comfortable just repeating a bunch of recipes.  I mean, normally I have a few nights a week of existing recipes and a few nights a week of new stuff…I just haven’t felt like it.  Then, this weekend, I got a hankering (yes, hankering) for the food of my people: Mediterranean!  Well, it started specifically with Lebanese food and then branched out to Greek and other Middle Eastern.  This is a hard food to make primal-compliant…but I’m going to try the best I can.  That being said, there are certain things that I won’t change (e.g. I won’t eliminate the bulgur in tabbouleh…that’s just sacrilegious).

So if you have any favorite Mediterranean dishes that you’re looking for new ways to make, comment below and I’ll see what I can do!  Until then, my first recipe I tackled was a traditional Greek salad.  Sidebar: I don’t like olives, but this was traditionally be served with Kalamata olives.  But really, it hit. the. spot.  McYumYums!

 

Greek Salad (Primal–Whole30 Compliant without the Feta)

Dressing:

1/4 C chopped parsley

1/4 C chopped dill

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp oregano

salt and pepper

Salad:

6 C chopped or shredded Romaine lettuce

3 C diced tomatoes

1 C thin-sliced red onion

1 cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced

1 C (about 4 oz or so) crumbled feta

1.- Add all dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until well-combined.

2.- Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl.  Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine.

 

This would be delicious with some grilled lamb or some chicken shish tawook!