Chet and I have been obsessed with a certain meatless dish for the past couple weeks. We were in Dearborn a few weeks ago and just happened to be really hungry when we were passing by a Lebanese Restaurant that we had never heard of. Ollie’s Lebanese Cuisine has several locations in the metro area. We were there with our friend, Karen and we ordered several items, including a half deboned chicken, hummus and almost as an afterthought decided “what the heck, Tomato Kibbe sounds interesting, add that too!”
When the Tomato Kibbe hit the table, I swore it was a plate of raw lamb. I even asked the waiter if he had mistakenly given us the “real” kibbe by mistake. This is seriously one of the most delicious Middle Eastern dishes I have ever tasted, and living in Michigan, I have eaten a lot of them! It was full of tomato, onion, pepper, bulgar, lemon, olive oil…you name it, we tasted it! A hush fell over the table as Karen, Chet and I devoured 3/4 of the plate. We took the rest home. Chet rarely eats left overs, but believe me that he was standing in the kitchen (in his underwears) eating kibbe with a fork when I woke up the next morning! It was THAT good!
I researched the availability of this delicious dish locally over the next week. We have a couple favorite Middle Eastern spots in the Lansing area. I made my typical weekly stop at Jerusalem Bakery and was happy to see that they had a “Vegetarian Kibbe” available but they didn’t have it that day. I actually stalked them that week and was disappointed to find that they didn’t have it at all that week. We pick up fattoush and hummus there nearly every week, so we will continue to watch for it and try their version when it is available.
The next week, Chet and I had to travel to the Detroit metro area again and actually planned our drive around getting MORE kibbe! We realized that there is an Ollie’s in Brighton and made plans to stop there on the way. We ate half an order there and took an order to go for our friend, Karen. The next morning we were again eating the leftovers for breakfast! We quickly realized that Karen might be out of luck on her order of kibbe. That afternoon, in between March Madness games, I called Karen and with only a minimal amount of arm twisting (maybe just a suggestion?) talked her into driving to Brighton on a quest for more kibbe! It was pretty insane, but we did it and made it back in time for the Lehigh game. I brought three sides of Tomato Kibbe and all I can say is “that is a LOT of kibbe.” This is what it looks like:
WOW…that is a LOT of kibbe! Chet and I had a nice dinner out on the balcony the next night. I plated the kibbe and dressed it with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil and garnished it with Parsley and we were in heaven. I ate so much Tomato Kibbe over a 5 day period that my mouth was raw from the acid in the tomatoes!
We ate most of this for dinner that night and I still took more for lunch the next day! It was good with vegetables, but not as good as with the fresh pita bread. I have shared several stories and pictures of this with a friend of mine who is vegan and gluten free. We have great plans for making something similar to this dish with quinoa in place of the bulgar. Hopefully this will be a Meatless Monday post in the NEAR future! After eating the better part of TWO QUARTS of tomato kibbe, we were a little “kibbed out.” Just today, Chet started asking for kibbe again! It might be time for another drive to Brighton.
So here I am, researching tomato kibbe (or kibbeh) recipes online. I have found a few resources and plan on trying them soon. Once I have this worked out, I will start working on the gluten free substitutions. I have a feeling that this will be a “go to dish” for a long time to come!