Courgettes stuffed with herby rice

18 August 2016

A fabulous vegetarian Middle Eastern meal of courgettes stuffed with rice, fresh herbs and spices.

Preparation time

1 hour

Cooking time

1 hour 10 minutes

Serves

4



Ingredients

  • 1kg/2lb 4oz courgettes or marrows
  • 625g/1lb 6oz tomatoes
  • 2 small onions
  • 100g/31/2oz/1/2 cup short-grain rice
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree/paste
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • Greek yogurt and warm Arabic bread, to serve (optional)

Method

Reserve the courgette cores to make succulent fritters. The stuffing is essentially a tabbouleh salad mixture mixed with rice – it’s a great way to use up leftover tabbouleh.

1. Rinse the courgettes and trim off the stem ends, leaving the wide base intact. Using a vegetable corer, scrape out the flesh and seeds, being sure to remove as much of it as you can without breaking through the courgette skin. If you do accidentally cut too hard and crack the courgettes, you can still stuff them but you will need to be gentle with them. Set the hollowed-out courgettes aside.

2. Finely chop 1 of the tomatoes and 1 of the onions and put in a mixing bowl. Add the rice, half the allspice, the parsley, 1 tablespoon of the mint, half the oil and half the lemon juice. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toast the pine nuts in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan often. Add them to the mixture.

3. Thinly slice the remaining tomatoes and onion. Drizzle a heavy-based pan with the remaining oil, then arrange layers of tomato and onion rings over the bottom. Add the remaining allspice and some salt.

4. Stuff the courgettes/zucchini by gently packing enough of the rice mixture to fill them three-quarters full, so leaving room for the rice to expand. Put the stuffed courgettes/zucchini on top of the tomato and onion layers in the pan.

5. Mix the tomato purée/paste with 250ml/9fl oz/generous 1 cup water and pour the mixture over the courgettes in the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Lay a heatproof plate that fits inside the pan on top of the courgettes to keep them compressed and minimize any movement. Pour in about 250ml/9fl oz/generous 1 cup water or enough liquid to ensure the courgettes are immersed, though not necessarily the plate too.

6. Heat the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to simmer, covered, for 45–60 minutes or until the courgettes are tender. To check if they are ready, pierce gently with a fork: the flesh should be soft and the rice cooked.

7. Meanwhile, grind the garlic and a pinch of salt using a pestle and mortar to make a paste. Add the remaining mint and pound for another minute, then mix in the remaining lemon juice. Drizzle the garlic and lemon mixture over the courgettes. Leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes so that the flavours seep in. Serve warm or at room temperature with yogurt and warm Arabic bread.

Extracted from The Jewelled Kitchen by Bethany Kehdy© Bethany Kehdy 2013, 2016 published by Nourish Books, London. Paperback £14.99

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