Tomato kibbeh is a vegan version of the traditional Lebanese dish, kibbeh nayeh, typically made with raw beef, onions, and bulgur wheat. This vegetarian rendition is made with tomatoes, bulgur wheat, onion, red peppers, and fresh herbs.
If you’re interested in trying new foods from different cultures, then let me introduce you to kibbeh. My Vegan Tomato Kibbeh is a great debut into the world of Lebanese food, and something you could share with anyone.
What is Kibbeh?
Originating in Syria, kibbeh is a middle eastern dish including ground lamb, as well as bulgur wheat, and spices and seasonings. It can be eaten either raw or cooked. When cooked, it is usually rolled into balls and fried or baked as croquettes.
Lebanese kibbeh includes the distinct flavor of mint leaves, while usually using ground beef as the protein. Kibbeh nayeh is eaten raw, and my take on the recipe removes the meat so that it can be enjoyed by anyone.
- Bulgur wheat: Chewy in texture, with a light, nutty flavor, it is used in many middle eastern dishes.
- Chicken or vegetable stock: Cooking the bulgur wheat in chicken or vegetable stock adds additional flavor. Chicken stock will have a stronger flavor, but veggie stock keeps the dish vegan and vegetarian.
- Onion: I use a white onion, which is mildest in flavor and slightly sweet, since it is being eaten raw.
- Parsley: Italian parsley is smoother and has a more robust flavor than curly parsley, but you can use either one.
- Lemon juice: Clean, fresh, and slightly sour, adding acidity and crisp flavor.
- Red bell pepper: The sweetest of the bell peppers, red peppers are my go-to when used in recipes where bell peppers will be eaten raw.
- Tomato: Stocked full of potassium, vitamins, and other nutrients, tomatoes are naturally sweet and a little tangy. They pair great with almost anything.
- Dried mint: Usually dried mint leaves are of the spearmint variety, and adds a unique, clean, fresh taste to the dish. Since mint pairs so nicely with lamb, it is an excellent addition to many middle eastern dishes, including kibbeh, curry, stews, and salads.
How to Make Vegan Tomato Kibbeh
Begin your tomato kibbeh by cooking your bulgur wheat in your chicken or vegetable stock. It takes about 20 minutes in total; once done, pour in a large bowl and set aside.
While the bulgur wheat is cooking, you can prepare your vegetables. Nothing needs to be cut super small, since we’ll be using a food processor, but you still want to deseed your bell pepper and cut it into chunks.
You’ll also quarter your onion, and cut your tomatoes in half, removing the seeds as well.
Start by putting the onion and fresh parsley in the food processor, with half of the lemon juice. Pulse a couple times until the onion is diced.
Next add the tomatoes and bell pepper, and continue to pulse for a few seconds at a time.
You’ll know it’s finished when you have a salsa-looking paste and there are no large chunks remaining.
Add your vegetable paste to the bulgur wheat in the large bowl you have set aside.
Season with salt and pepper, and add the dried mint leaves. If you want an additional kick of flavor, here is where you’ll also add cayenne.
Add the remaining lemon juice. I prefer using fresh squeezed, but bottled works as well.
Give it a good stir until everything is evenly mixed and the seasonings and lemon juice is well incorporated.
Next, spread your tomato kibbeh out on a large plate or serving platter, drizzle with olive oil, and- if you’re feeling fancy- garnish with additional tomato and mint leaves.
Serve with pita bread, pita chips, or nothing at all!
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I store kibbeh?
Kept in a resealable bag or airtight container, it’ll keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, or 4 months in the freezer.
Can I make this gluten free?
Yes, you can use quinoa instead of bulgur wheat to make this recipe gluten free.
Could I add meat still?
If you want a kibbeh recipe with meat included, I have a baked kibbeh that includes ground lamb and sirloin.
More Lebanese Dishes
- Lebanese Salad Wraps
- Sfeehas (Lebanese Meat Pies)
- Lebanese Green Beans with Tomatoes
- Baked Kibbeh
- Labneh with Olive oil and Za’atar
For those new to Lebanese cuisine, traditional kibbeh nayeh may seem especially intimidating. This Vegan Tomato Kibbeh is not only tasty, but a great way to ease into a new culture and way of cooking and using ingredients. I highly recommend giving it a try.
No fork required.
Vegan Tomato Kibbeh
- 1 cup bulgur wheat (any size, such as medium or fine )
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 medium onion (peeled and quartered)
- 1 cup parsley
- ½ cup lemon juice (divided)
- 1 red bell pepper (cored and quartered)
- 2 large tomatoes (seeds removed, halved)
- 2 tablespoons dried mint
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- olive oil, chopped tomatoes, dried mint (optional, to garnish)
- pita bread (optional, to serve)
- Bring two cups of vegetable or chicken broth to a boil in a small sauce pot then add in bulgur wheat. Bring to a boil then reduce to low. Cover tightly with lid and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff bulgur wheat with a fork. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
- While the bulgur wheat is cooking, pulse the onion, parsley, half of the lemon juice (1/4 cup), red pepper, and tomatoes in a food processor. Pulse it for a few seconds at a time and continue until mixture takes on a paste-like consistency. Remove from food processor and place in the large bowl with the cooked bulgur wheat. Stir well.
- Add remaining lemon juice (1/4 cup), salt, pepper, dried mint and cayenne to the bowl then check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Spread mixture out in a thin layer on a large plate or serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with additional chopped tomatoes and dried mint to serve. Serve with pita bread if you wish.