It’s been a little while since I promised recipes from my Whole30 month, but after a hectic couple of weeks, I’ve got the day off work, so no excuses for not updating this! A few healthy recipes on the way, plus some not so healthy ones. What can I say…… I love cake.
I got the idea for making this from a colleague at work. His wife is Lebanese, so he quite often comes into work with yummy looking leftovers for lunch. He had an amazing looking meal for lunch the other day, and when I asked what it was, he told me it was a Kibbeh – or variation of. He said his wife doesn’t tend to make it, as it ends up using most of the pans in the kitchen, so this one had come from his mother-in-law after their dinner the night before. His lunch had chickpeas, onion, spinach and spices in, topped with pumpkin mash. In my head, I decided it was a little bit like a Lebanese version of our shepherd’s pie!
After a long day in the office, feeling very puffy-eyed, dehydrated and a bit run down, I decided I needed something wholesome, hot and tasty for dinner, rather than anything plain and simple. Fortunately we also had lamb mince in the fridge, which is quite unusual as we normally just buy beef mince. As I was Whole30-ing, I didn’t include the chickpeas, but they would make a nice addition another time, or a good substitute for the meat if you are vegetarian. I think it’s more traditional to have the pumpkin as a base and a top (more like a pastry case around the pie), but I a) didn’t have enough squash, and b) couldn’t be bothered to dry out the pumpkin/squash mash enough to use it for that!
I didn’t use a recipe for this, so it was all a bit ad hoc, but it tasted fab so I thought I’d share it anyway. Quantities of various veg etc. were just what I had in my fridge, but I’m pretty sure this would work with a reasonable amount of ingredient/quantity tweaking!
- A small squash/pumpkin – probably ~500g
- 1 onion
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 pack lamb mince ~500g
- 1 bunch fresh young spinach
- 4 mushrooms
- Dried rosemary
- Ground almonds
Chop the squash into large chunks, place on baking paper on a baking tray, and drizzle with coconut oil. Roast in a hot oven ~200° for around 25-30 minutes, turning at least once, until the flesh is soft, and caramelized on all sides. Set aside to cool. Sauté the onions and garlic in the coconut oil, and add the mince to cook through. Add cinnamon and cumin to taste. I love both these spices, and I think they work very well together to make a warming, earthy spice, so I tend to add both of them in abundance. We don’t have fresh rosemary out here, so dried rosemary went in as well – again, just add as much as you like to taste. I probably added about a teaspoon each of cinnamon, cumin and dried rosemary. You can always add more later if it’s not seasoned enough for your liking (I think I probably did!).
Once the meat is browned, add the mushrooms (chopped or sliced) and stir in well. Place the fresh spinach on top of the meat and onion mixture, turn the heat down, and cover with a lid. The spinach will wilt, and release moisture into the mix. I didn’t add any addition liquid to the dish, I found that the combination of the coconut oil, the fat from the meat, and the wilted spinach created a perfect amount of liquid. You don’t want it to be really runny; you still want a portion to hold its rough shape when you serve it (think of cottage/shepherd’s pie). Now is a good time to check seasoning and add more if you like.
Remove the flesh from the roasted squash pieces – don’t worry if you can’t get the skin off cleanly, it won’t matter in the slightest if it ends up being mixed in, just try and take the tougher/crispier bits of skin off. I saved the skins and put them back in the oven with a bit of salt and pepper on to make squash skin crisps :) If you are not in a hurry, or making this ahead of time, this is when you could drain the squash a little – use something like a tea-towel or muslin to squeeze some of the liquid out. I didn’t bother draining it because I was feeling very hungry by this point and pretty lazy to boot. Blitz the cooked squash/pumpkin flesh with a hand blender or a food processor (it won’t need much), until you have a smooth textured mixture. A hand masher would probably work just as well if you don’t have a blender.
Transfer meat, onion and spinach mixture to an oven-proof baking dish, and press lightly into the bottom, then spoon the squash mixture on top, and smooth. In a vain attempt to try and dry out the squash topping a little, I sprinkled it with ground almonds, and then popped it back in the oven under the grill for about 10 mins. It made it look nice but it didn’t achieve a whole lot!
Leave for a little while to cool down, and then plate up and enjoy! Like most of these things, it cut a whole lot better the next day, and was just as yummy reheated for dinner two days later as it had been the night I made it. I had it on day 1 with roasted cauliflower florets, squash skin crisps, chopped olives, and a cucumber, green pepper and pomegranate salad. Who ever said wholesome food was boring doesn’t know what they’re talking about!