What makes this dish great for summer:
This version of stuffed zucchini has the stem and tip removed, and then the zucchini is 'cored' with a zucchini corer, leaving a perfect casing for a delicious filling!
My inspiration for stuffing zucchini in this manner comes from Anissa Helou's Lebanese Cuisine, which has been a favorite cookbook that I have referenced since it was published in 1994.
- 4 pounds small zucchini (approximately 16), cored (View the tutorial here.)
- 1 1/2 pounds ground meat (beef, turkey or lamb)
- 6 roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced fine (1 1/2 - 2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups long grain rice
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons 'Seven Spice' blend
- Salt to taste
- 2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
- 1 - 2 cans of water (from tomato sauce)
- additional 'Seven Spice' blend added to tomato sauce to suit personal taste
- plain yogurt
- Mix ground meat, tomatoes, rice, water, seven spice blend and salt.
- Stuff zucchinis with meat-rice-tomato mixture and place in nonstick Dutch oven or stockpot so that they are leaning on the side and each other so the stuffing will not fall out. (NOTE: Do not over stuff because rice will expand when cooking, potentially causing the zucchini to burst.)
- Blend tomato sauce, water and seven spices (to taste) and pour over top. There should be enough liquid to come almost to the top of the zucchini.
- Bring to a gentle boil for 45 - 60 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked.
- Let zucchini cool 15 minutes prior to transferring to serving tray. Note the cooked zucchini will be very tender and prone to ripping or tearing. It is best to transfer with a spoon combined with your fingers.
- Serve with the tomato sauce and plain yogurt.
A note about 'Seven Spice': This is a spice blend that is common to Lebanese cooking. My recommendation would be to purchase from an online retailer or a Lebanese / Mediterranean Market. If that is not an option, you can do an internet search to determine how to blend your own glorious spice mix.
It is very difficult to gauge how much stuffing is required for the amount of zucchini you purchased. I have done my best to capture that here. Sometimes I may have a bit extra meat stuffing, so I form it into a patty and toss it in the sauce. Sometimes I may have extra cored zucchini, so I may either freeze them or go ahead and put them in the pot with their stuffed counterparts.