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Koubeba Syriani


  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 pound lean ground veal or beef
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup ground walnuts, plus 20 walnut halves
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup toasted bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 20 pitted prunes
  • 1 cup chicken or beef stock
  • 2/3 cup dry red wine
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


  1. In a food processor or blender, combine the onion, chopped parsley and lemon juice and pulse to chop.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture, meat, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, bread crumbs, oil, egg, pepper or pepper flakes and salt and knead into a homogenous mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
  3. Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
  4. Shape 1/4-cup portions of the meat mixture into oval rolls and arrange in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Brush the rolls with oil and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, insert 1 walnut half into each prune (you may need to halve the larger walnuts).
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
  7. Arrange the stuffed prunes between the meat rolls, add the stock, wine and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more. Baste with the pan juices, turn off the oven and leave the dish in the oven for 5 minutes.
  8. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with vinegar, salt and/or pepper or pepper flakes. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve.

Yield: 4 servings (of about 3 meat rolls each)