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Sunday Small Bites--Pumpkin

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Let me tell you my sad, sad story.

I immediately knew what I wanted to try making for this week's ingredient, pumpkin. Many years ago there was a Lebanese restaurant nearby that made a pumpkin kibbeh that I loved. Kibbeh (or kibbe, kibbee, you see it spelled different ways) is a Middle-Eastern appetizer made from bulgar wheat that is pressed around a filling, formed into an oval, and fried. There are also versions where the bulgar is pressed into a pan, the filling spread on top, the rest of the bulgar forms the top crust, and the dish is baked then cut into small triangles or squares.

I found a recipe in Paula Wolfert's "The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean" for a pumpkin kibbeh filled with spinach, chick peas and walnuts, but it was the fried variety. I adapted the recipe for a baked version, added some seasonings I found in an online version, but did not use the huge amounts of oil called for in the baked kibbeh recipes in Wolfert's book.

The results were disappointingly dry, to say the least. Sawdust around a tasty spinach and chickpea filling. (the recipe for the filling is in my previous entry) But isn't it pretty? Even my husband, notoriously cheerful about all my cooking, even the low-fat efforts, pushed it around his plate before asking "is it supposed to be like this?"

Let's face it, there are reasons why so many recipes call for frying; why oil, butter, all those lovely things were used by the gallon in the days when people physically toiled 18 hour days to put a dish on the table every night. It makes the food taste better, especially the humblest foods. They needed the calories. I do not. This, children, was not one of the dishes where the fat calories could be taken out and the eater wouldn't notice.

OK, on to pumpkin number two. Simpler, and this one was a keeper. The roasted pumpkin was a really nice addition to peppery greens. Great Fall salad!

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Pumpkin, Pomegranate, and Pine Nut Salad
serves four, increase as needed

1/2 small sugar pumpkin (or butternut squash)
spray cooking oil
salt and pepper

fresh spinach and arugula (I used a mixture) or mesclun
1 pomegranate, seeds removed--use 1/4 to 1/2 cup seeds (TJ's often has containers of the seeds)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (or use pepitas, toasted hulled pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese

Dressing:
3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. dark nut oil--pumpkin seed, toasted hazelnut, or pistachio
2 Tbs. vegetable or chicken broth

1. Get out your machete. Or your sharpest knife. Cut, peel, and dice the pumpkin. Spray a cookie sheet with oil, toss the pumpkin cubes on, spray with more oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 450 oven for 20-25 minutes, until browned and soft.

2. Combine dressing ingredients, mix well.

3. Put salad greens in a bowl, and toss with most of the dressing, reserving some. Put some of the dressed greens onto serving plates.

4. Top each pile of greens with some of the roasted pumpkin, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and chevre. Drizzle on just a bit more dressing, and serve.


Comments (9)

Mindy:

Shut up! the roasted pumpkin pomegranate salad looks SO delicious!!!! Seriously, now that you have a spare room, you mind if me and my 2 cats move in? I'll clean your house, do your laundry and do the dishes. Just cook for me!!

Love ya!!!

Mindy

Marcia:

Sorry to hear this, the dish looked beautiful - guess it's a lesson in oil and fat, you're right that there are just some dishes that can't be messed with.

It was a beautiful looking Kibbeh. But, the salad as a fall-back looks like a home run to me. I'm going to try it with the spinach.

sheri:

Sorry that your first dish was disappointing. That salad makes up for it. It looks/sounds wonderful.

Amy,
I've never heard of baked kibbeh.I thought the whole point was frying it, and let me tell you, I am all into healthy cooking, buy kibebeh,I eat. Now, I've seen raw kibbeh before(not that good IMHO).

Your salad looks great.

At least he didn't come right out and say it was horrible. Too bad the baked version did not work.

The salad looks great!

I know what you mean about trying to decrease the fat content in foods. Sometimes it just pulls everything good about a dish out! LOL

The salad looks wonderful. I tried baking my pies to make them less calories, but it didn't work. The wonton skins just got too chewy. Had to resort to frying them.

nancyhol:

So sad about your Kibbeh. But you didn't give up and made a great-looking salad. Good for you!

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