Eastern Easter: Georgina Hayden’s kibbeh and sweet-braised veg recipes | Food

Kebbet laktin

Prep 20 min
Rest 30 min
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Serves 6–8

1kg pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into 3cm chunks, or 400g pumpkin puree
1 onion
250g fine bulgur wheat
½ t
sp ground cinnamon
¼ t
sp ground allspice
Sea salt and
black pepper
3 t
bsp plain flour
100ml olive oil
5 red onions
, peeled and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves
, peeled and finely sliced
200g baby leaf spinach
1 t
sp cumin seeds
½ t
sp pul biber or dried chilli flakes
3 t
bsp pomegranate molasses
2 t
bsp toasted pine nuts

If you are using fresh pumpkin, put the chunks in a large pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cook for 20-30 minutes, until tender, then drain into a colander and leave to steam dry for 30 minutes, so that all the excess liquid evaporates. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion and set aside.

Once the pumpkin is cooled and dry, you should have about 400g. Transfer to a large bowl and blitz to a puree with a stick blender. Stir in the chopped onion, bulgur, cinnamon and allspice, and season, then set aside for 30 minutes, so the bulgur can absorb the moisture from the pumpkin. Stir in the flour until combined, then use your hands to knead the mixture to a smooth dough. If it’s looking a bit dry and crumbly, very gradually add enough water to bring it together – depending on the pumpkin, you might need up to six tablespoons.

Heat the oven to 220C (fan 200C)/425F/gas 7. Brush a deep, loose-bottomed 24cm fluted pie tin with a little oil (I find larger flutes work better with this recipe). Press the pumpkin-bulgur dough evenly into the base and up the sides of the tin, then drizzle generously with olive oil, gently brushing it around so it covers the whole surface of the dough. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the crust is golden all over and the tops of the sides are slightly browned.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Rinse the spinach well, then set aside. Put a wide pan on a medium-low heat, add three tablespoons of oil, then stir in the onions and garlic, cover the pan and leave to cook for 10 minutes, until they start to soften. Stir in the cumin seeds, pul biber and a teaspoon each of salt and black pepper, then fry, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for a further 15 minutes, until sticky and sweet.

Stir in the pomegranate molasses and cook for a further five minutes – the onions should by now be gloriously pink. Add the spinach, turn up the heat a little and cook for eight to 10 minutes, until all the leaves have wilted and there is hardly any moisture left in the pan.

Spoon the filling into the tart case, then remove it from the tin and slide on to a serving board. Sprinkle over the pine nuts and leave to stand for five minutes before serving.

Braised fennel with saffron

Prep 5 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

1 pinch saffron threads
2 fennel bulbs
Olive oil
alt and black pepper
1 t
bsp agave or maple syrup (or sugar)
½ bunch of flat-leaf parsley
, picked and roughly chopped
2 t
bsp harissa paste

Put the saffron in a medium bowl filled with 350ml just-boiled water and leave to infuse. Pick any fronds from the fennel bulbs and set aside, then trim the tops of the stems and bases of the bulbs, and cut the fennel into quarters.

Lay the fennel wedges in a single layer in a large frying pan, drizzle with a little olive oil, season generously and turn to coat. Put the pan on a medium heat and fry the fennel for about 10–12 minutes, turning the wedges once halfway, until lightly browned all over.

Drizzle with the syrup, cook for another three or four minutes, until the wedges are slightly caramelised, then pour the saffron and its soaking water into the pan. Turn up the heat, bring to a boil, then cover, turn the heat to low-medium and simmer gently for 15–20 minutes, until the fennel is tender.

When the fennel is cooked through, remove the lid and increase the heat to cook away most of the liquid in the pan, until just 5mm or so is left at the bottom. Turn off the heatand leave the fennel to cool slightly.

Spread the harissa on a serving plate, lay the fennel wedges on top and spoon over a little of the pan juices. Sprinkle with the parsley and reserved fennel fronds, and serve.

Sweet-and-sour leeks

Prep 5 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4, as a side

3 leeks
4 t
bsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
, peeled and finely sliced
1 t
bsp caster sugar
2 thyme or oregano sprigs
, leaves picked
alt and black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

Trim the leeks, finely slice the green parts and cut the whites into 2cm-wide rounds, then put both in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.

Put a large saucepan on a medium-low heat, add the olive oil and sliced garlic, and fry for a minute. Add the sugar and fry for a minute or two longer, until the garlic is lightly golden. Stir in the washed leeks and herbs, season with a good few pinches of salt and pepper, and fry, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Add 75ml water, cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring from time to time, for 30 or so minutes, until softened and sticky. Take off the lid, turn up the heat up a little and cook for five more minutes, to get rid of any excess liquid.

Stir in the lemon juice, season to taste and serve.

  • Recipes extracted from Nistisima: The Secret to Delicious Vegan Cooking from the Mediterranean and Beyond, by Georgina Hayden, published by Bloomsbury at £26. To order a copy for £22.62, go to guardianbookshop.com

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