Middle-Eastern Style Roast Pumpkin Salad

Danger. The term Middle-Eastern may cause confusion and disorientation. If you thought the Middle East spanned the geographical region that spreads from Egypt to Iran, the G8 begs to differ. Didn’t you know that the Middle East reaches as far west as Morocco? But Morocco is further west than England, I hear you say. Still, you’re wrong. Here’s a link to the map of the Middle East according to the great forces of the world. Move out of the way geography, there’s a higher power at work.

The term Middle East has become a difficult one for me to use. As it is no longer specific to my part of the world, I need to find a better word. How can I describe a dish that is not traditional, but uses traditional flavours in new combinations? Maybe I’ll just name it after my mother. She uses these flavours often… OK then, here you go, an Isabelle style roast pumpkin salad.

Start with some of the basic tabbouleh ingredients. Parsley, mint and burghul. Make sure the burghul is soaked in water for a few minutes until it’s soft and doesn’t break your teeth. Add some roasted almonds and lemon rind. If you’ve never used lemon rind in a salad, you’re in for a treat. I love it so much I even add it to a tabbouleh and it rocks. Add some chunks of oven roasted pumpkin, diced tomatoes if you would like to, some chickpeas (from a can is fine) and dress the lot with some salt, lemon juice (not too much) and generous amount of olive oil. I didn’t have it, but some feta cheese would work a treat, I’m sure. There you go, a salad as Middle-Eastern as apple pie.

P.S. – I’m running out of things to talk about and am looking to you for inspiration. Do you have a Lebanese dish you want to learn to make, or is there an ingredient that is still shrouded with mystery that you want me to tell you about? Leave a comment and let me know.


  • Great post and the photo looks yummy! I’ve just been to an Assyrian place in Fairfield and they served this dish called Qoozi, which is rice, almond, sultana served with lamb shanks.. do you have something similar in Lebanese culture?

  • yum. I too put lemon rind in my tabbouleh to give it a bit more sharpness. I love it.

    There’s a dessert I had in Cairo as a kid, outside Khan El Khalili, it was like a large think crepe/pancake cooked right there on the cart with sugar and nuts. It was divine. I’ve never seen it here in Australia, and can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called.

    There you go. One Middle Eastern challenge!

  • I am on the lookout for bread recipes, especially manoush. What else goes on these apart from zatar?

  • Funny you should ask…..

    I have seen these gorgeous paper thin bread circles being made, after a bit of a search I think they are called khubz markouk? A recipe that could be made in a typical domestic kitchen would be very cool.

    Also I bought myself some moghrabieh and would love a Lebanese recipes that I could use it with. Have been playing around with it, but so far what I have found are not really traditional recipes.

  • I’d love a lamb kofta recipe if you have one! Have tried several recipes which always seem lacklustre.

  • This looks wonderful, so simple and fresh. I am so addicted to pistachio halva and have always intended to make it myself… but I have friends who bring it in from O/S by the bucket load.

  • Yogurt, yogurt, yogurt!

    How about family and acquaintance stories, food and otherwise?

    Unique culinary concoctions that blend Australian and multi-national flavors.

    Anything, really. You have such a wonderful voice and are always equally thoughtful and humorous.

    I really enjoy reading your blog.

    Take a break…but don’t leave the blogosphere!

  • Thanks for the comments everybody. A lot of great ideas, so heaps more inspiration.

    Richard, a quick reply to you. You can put cheese with sesame seeds (akkawi cheese works well, or a mix of akkawi and halloumi). You can put chili paste, kishk, or turn them into triangular turnovers and fill them with spinach and onions.

    Sara. Markouk needs a saj, which is an inverted wok-like oven. As far as I know, that’s the only way to make paper-thin markouk. See the photo here:

    Foodie and the Chef. Halva… Wow. Tough one. I know it’s pretty complicated to make, with difficult to find ingredients like soapwort root. I’m travelling to Lebanon in June and will research it further.

    Vivianne. Yes, Levantine is good, but few people really knows it, including Levantine people 🙂

    Paula. Thanks for commenting and your encouragement. I’ll try to write a yoghurt recipe soon.

  • We have loads of thyme growing in our backyard and we love zaatar… Do you have any recipes for making our own zaatar?

  • Hi Fouad,

    I would love a recipe for lebanese cucumber pickles. (I know how to make the turnip pickles but can’t master the cucumber ones). I think the ones they sell in jars at the supermarket are too sweet and don’t suit meals like falafel and shawarna etc.

  • At a rather large restaurant in Parramatta we had the most devine lamb and chicken shawarma as well as chicken shish tawouk. Try as you may to google similar recipes there is not one near to the quality of what they offered here. Is it how they are cooked as much as the marinade that raises these dishes to great heights?

  • Love the site, it’s a great find.
    Like many people I am tired of Thai and am making more middle eastern? recipes for brunches and lunches for friends. Something I would appreciate is some dessert recipes or ideas, the ones I have found aren’t that interesting. Preferably desserts that don’t require a 5 star chef to make.

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