Book Club dish #2! This was actually a lot easier to make than I had envisioned. The thought of hollowing out all of those zucchini worried me just a bit. But armed with a teaspoon (we don’t have a melon ball spoon), I did it! Once I got the hang of it, and didn’t break any chunks off, it was done quicker than I thought.
Once again Faith, from An Edible Mosaic Blog, gave me the idea which I pushed a little further. She had learned this recipe from her mother-in-law who is living in Syria. This is a very similar recipe that many people use for stuffed peppers. I added some more flavor to the sauce since I was using canned sauce (tomatoes are not yet in season here in DC, and the one’s from the grocery store taste awful!). Instead of beef, ground chicken or turkey can be used.
This would be another dish I’d try out for a dinner party, the sauce can be made a day ahead- and the prepping of the zucchini did not take long. I’d say 2 pieces of zucchini per person, especially if there was other food (appetizers, dessert, etc).
Beef & Rice Stuffed Zucchini
Adapted from:An Edible Mosaic Blog
1 1/2 cup rice (uncooked)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
3 oz tomato paste
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp curry
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 beef bouillon cubes
3 bay leaves
1 lb ground beef
3 tbsp butter, melted
Wash the zucchini, and cut off the ends. Then cut each zucchini into 2 or 3 equal pieces (this will be determined by the zucchini size), about 3-4 inches long. Using a melon ball spoon (I used a teaspoon) hollow out each piece of zucchini, but be careful to keep the walls intact. *the leftover zucchini insides can be used for zucchini bread!*
Then, in a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, saute for 6-8 minutes or until soft. Remove 3/4 of the onion-garlic mixture and put in separate bowl. Add a can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, allspice, cumin, curry, bouillon and bay leaves into the pot. Also add 1 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of pepper, as well as 1 cup of water. Heat this sauce over low heat.
Meanwhile, add the ground meat (raw), rice (uncooked), melted butter, and the rest of the salt and pepper (1 tsp each) to the onion-garlic mixture in a bowl. Mix this together, and then begin stuffing each zucchini with the meat-rice mixture. Pack it in tight, leaving about a 1/4 inch gap between the top of the zucchini and the mixture. (the rice will expand when cooking)
Once complete, add the stuffed zucchini into the simmering tomato sauce, trying to submerge most of the zucchini into the sauce. Cook on medium to low heat, covered for about 1 hour. The zucchini will be soft once it’s cooked (I took one out to double-check and tested the softness with a fork).