Tomato Kibbeh

Tomato kibbeh is a flavorful mix of fine bulgur, onion, herbs, and ripe tomatoes with kibbeh spices. So good, tomato kibbeh might just make you forget the raw meat version….

Tomato kibbeh on a blue and white oval platter, garnished with fresh mint, Maureen Abood.

When he told me he was more or less done with meat, I didn’t believe him.

It was last spring, and the brother of mine who is perhaps the most particular about food (and I do mean perhaps, since we’re all cut from that cloth), said definitively that meat was OUT. Complete vegetarian diet, IN.

I know you don’t want me to argue with this. And I don’t want to argue with this. I get that the vegetarian diet high in protein is very healthy. I myself went all-in vegetarian at one point, but that was a loooong time ago. It was short-lived. Mostly I felt deprived of the meaty goodness all around me, also known as Mom’s kitchen.

Red tomatoes on the scale at the farmer's market, Maureen Abood

Two red tomatoes on a white kitchen windowsill behind the faucet, Maureen Abood

Tomatoes on a brown bag, lemon, onion, red pepper, herbs, and bulgur for tomato kibbeh, Maureen Abood

So I figured Richard’s new regime would not, could not, hold. Not up north. Not when we’re all together in July. What about burgers at Bar Harbor, bro? And fried chicken at Dam Site Inn? Even though he says he’s not rigid about the no-meat agenda, when neither of these naughty-good annual family outings budged him, I got seriously worried that we might never break meat together again.

Therefore, I had to bring in the big guns. Hello kibbeh dinner, feast of all feasts. I opened an array of kibbeh spices I’ve been collecting to share with Dicky specifically, since he is always reminiscing about the flavor of the kibbeh he used to eat in Dearborn when he lived out that way during his residency. This blend has whole dried mint leaves and rose petals and an amazing scent! That one has cumin and red pepper flakes and all kinds of other unidentifiable aromatics! Looksee and you’ll want raw kibbeh but badly!

He got into it and went at the mixing and the tasting like a true Lebanese cousin. The one who mixes the kibbeh has to also taste, right, as does everyone within earshot of “who wants to taste it?”

Herbs and onion in the food processor, Maureen Abood

Seeded tomatoes on a cutting board with a sharp knife, Maureen Abood

Tomato seeds in a glass bowl with a silver spoon, Maureen Abood

But then there was the plate. I inspected his from down the table. I saw mostly fattoush (who can blame him? Ours is addictive.), with a little dab of kibbeh. You’d think I was the Inspector of Plates, and you’d be correct.

Why should I care so much if the guy eats meat or doesn’t?!

Here’s the thing: whenever Dick does something striking like this, it seems like I tend to follow suit. Copycat sister. When he started drinking two cups of regular coffee every day because it’s so good for you, along came me with her two cups (at least. + probiotic). And back in the day, there was the sushi. I ate my first raw fish with him, after years of sushi-longing but being too skittish to go for it. We went to a fresh, great spot in Chicago and he showed me the finer points of mixing wasabi with soy (tiny drops of soy at a time, to disperse the wasabi evenly). I’ve been eating raw fish with abandon ever since.

Tomatoes in the food processor with the lid off, Maureen Abood

Dried mint and rose petals in kibbeh spice in a plastic container, surrounded by fresh mint and lemon, Muareen Abood

Olive oil in a glass measuring cup with a bottle next to it, Maureen Abood

Vegetarian? I can’t see it for me. No way.

But then, ask Dan and he’ll tell you my plate typically doesn’t fill with much meat. Instead, big heaps of salad. And did you know there is vegetarian kibbeh? Oh my GOSH, is it GOOD! Tomato kibbeh all spiced up with ripe garden tomatoes? Hi, I’m in love. Find it in my cookbook along with vegetarian potato kibbeh stuffed with lemony spinach.

Tomato kibbeh on a platter with olive oil and mint, Maureen Abood

Of course, we know well that the Lebanese diet is rich in beautifully prepared vegetables, grains, and fruit, a vegetarian’s heaven of a way of eating. So good for you and so delicious in every way.

Not that I’d do it; no way, not at all, nope . . .

But a person really could eat like this, and go without meat forever.

Tomato kibbeh on a blue and white platter with mint and olive oil, Maureen Abood

Tomato Kibbeh

Maureen Abood
Tomato kibbeh is a super flavorful blend of bulgur wheat, sweet onion, herbs, and of course, ripe tomatoes. Drizzle with excellent extra virgin olive oil after giving the kibbeh time to rest. Serve with all of the trimmings: labneh, lift, thin pita bread, olives, and a crisp romaine salad.
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 2 hrs

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups fine bulgur wheat
  • 15 mint leaves, plus a few mint tops for serving
  • 5 sprigs parsley, flatleaf or curly, picked from the stems
  • 1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large ripe red tomatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, cored, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kibbeh spice, or kibbeh spice, or 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus more for serving extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons crushed dried mint (and rose petals; optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions
 

  • Place the bulgur in a medium mixing bowl.
  • In the food processor, pulse the mint, parsley and onion until they are finely chopped but not pureed. Stop occasionally to scrape down the bowl. Scrape this mixture into the bowl with the bulgur.
  • Prepare the tomatoes by coring and seeding them. Discard or do as I do, and eat the delicious seeds and juice!
  • In the food processor (no need to rinse the bowl), pulse the tomatoes and red bell pepper until they are finely chopped but not pureed. Scrape this mixture into the bowl with the bulgur, onion and herbs.
  • Use a large mixing spoon to combine all of the ingredients well with the spices and olive oil, and lemon juice. Let the kibbeh rest at room temperature for at least an hour to soften the bulgur and allow the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust the seasonings to taste. Chill until ready to serve, and serve cold.
  • To plate the kibbeh, spoon onto a large platter forming an oval or circle about an inch thick. Use the tip of a spoon to decorate the top with ridges. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil, garnish with mint sprigs, and serve immediately.

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17 Comments

  1. Aunt Anne on August 25, 2017 at 1:59 PM

    Wow ! A vegetarian Abood? No way ! I’m really impressed and maybe even inspired . A veggie friend of mine has his mother make him kibbie with pumpkin and my sister says it’s absolutely delicious. I failed to try it at the last family gathering but will get her recipe and share it with you, dear Maureen. Your tomato one sounds wonderful and I just bought a whole bunch of homegrown ones from the market and will try it for sure.
    Thanks !!

    • Maureen Abood on August 26, 2017 at 10:01 AM

      I’m working on the pumpkin version and would love to hear about your friend’s recipe. Love you!

  2. Linda Homenick on September 30, 2017 at 11:26 AM

    This recipe intrigues me…however it does seem very reminiscent of tabbouleh…..how does it differ?

    • Maureen Abood on October 5, 2017 at 9:09 AM

      Thanks Linda–while the ingredient list does have similarities, tabbouleh is mixed as an herb salad with a touch of bulgur, and this is primarily the bulgur wheat soaked with tomato and the other ingredients, then chilled and eaten as kibbeh. Much different in method and the end result. Give it a whirl!

  3. Mary Farradj on September 10, 2018 at 11:39 AM

    Loved the recipe but made it gf- used cooked quinoa not bulgar and it was so tasty.

    • Maureen Abood on September 13, 2018 at 8:59 AM

      Wow, that sounds great and I’ll have to try it! Thanks Mary!

    • Denine Kaspor Boyle on June 26, 2022 at 8:15 AM

      Great to know..that is what i want to try! LOVE tomato kibbie and is seems I found the right one with the seasonings our family uses..can’t wait to try!

      • Maureen Abood on July 8, 2022 at 1:37 PM

        Denine I’ll love to hear how you like this very delicious favorite!!

        • Denine Boyle on July 22, 2022 at 1:25 PM

          This is definitely my favorite!! I did add a bit of allspice. I feel like I am eating the real thing!! I want to try with quinoa..any suggestions?? Should I preboil the quinoa or keep it uncooked like the bulgar?

        • Denine Boyle on July 22, 2022 at 4:06 PM

          Love this tomato kibbeh recipe! Tastes like the real thing!! I did add a little allspice. and next time I would like to make it with quinoa.

          • Maureen Abood on July 27, 2022 at 10:58 AM

            Mmmmmmm! Great with quinoa alternative! Always rinse and cook the quinoa first!



  4. Nadia on October 4, 2018 at 12:53 AM

    Looks delicious! I have to try this! do we need to soak the burgul? thanks

    • Maureen Abood on October 8, 2018 at 9:11 AM

      Nadia, no need to soak the bulgur in advance. The juices from the tomato will soften and flavor the bulgur. Enjoy!

  5. Joy on September 22, 2021 at 11:54 AM

    This is so delicious ! I’m stunned..I don’t miss the meat at all! Thank you !

  6. Frank on April 16, 2022 at 12:48 PM

    Love this!!! It’s fantastic! Thank you!! Also, is there a video for this particular recipe? Happy Easter!!

    • Maureen Abood on April 18, 2022 at 10:00 AM

      Frank, not yet! Sure will though, stay tuned!

  7. Mariangela on September 5, 2022 at 1:50 AM

    An attention grabber! Love this idea but will enjoy looking at it….hopefully someone else will make it for me!

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Maureen Abood in the kitchen

I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!

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