Monday, 23 July 2018

Turkish Style Stuffed Zucchini (or Tomatoes)

There is nothing difficult or complex about these, but it has to be admitted that they are a little time-consuming. Best to approach them with a sense of leisure. On the other hand, they are really delicious. We had them with steamed rice, which was all they needed as an accompaniment.

I'm saying you can stuff zucchini OR tomatoes, but I ended  up stuffing some of both, and that worked very well. The tomatoes are certainly easier and quicker to prepare than the zucchini, but the zucchini are so nice, and they look so charming all set together.  And, well, we have a lot of zucchini at the moment. What else is new?

Since this recipe does not use the carved out bits of zucchini and tomato, save them (separately) to make soup - that will be the next recipe up. Also save the cooking liquid to use as broth.

4 servings
2 1/2 hours - 1 hour 15 minutes prep time

Turkish Style Stuffed Zucchini and Tomatoes

Prepare the Vegetables & the Bulgur:
6 to 8 medium-large zucchini
OR 8 medium-large tomatoes
1/2 cup bulgur
boiling water

Wash the vegetables. I used 4 zucchini and 4 tomatoes, which made a nice combination.

If using zucchini, you want to have ones that are 1 1/2" to 2" in diameter and nice and straight. Cut off the stem and scar ends, and cut the zucchini into pieces 2 fingers wide (about 1 1/2"). Carve out the middles of them, leaving a ring of zucchini. I found it easiest to cut a cone-shaped wedge from each side, which left a thick point in the middle, which was then easily whittled down. Salt the interiors of the zucchini rings and leave them on a plate to drain as you prepare the other ingredients. I tossed the scraps into a coverable storage container to use to make soup tomorrow.

If using tomatoes, cut off a good lid, about 1/4" thick. Use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the insides. They too can be reserved for another use. Salt the interiors of the tomatoes and set them aside until required, as with the zucchini.

Put the bulgur into a mixing bowl, and cover it generously with boiling water. Let soak until needed.

Prepare the Oil & Herb Sauce:
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh mint
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Wash, dry and mince the basil and mint. Do try to get them really finely minced. I thought I had, but not as well as would have been ideal. Really fine!

Mix in the salt and the oil, bruising the herbs into the oil well to infuse their flavours into it.  Set aside until needed.

Prepare the Yogurt & Garlic Sauce:
1 clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup thick yogurt

Peel the garlic and mince it very finely. Sprinkle it with the salt, mince it some more, then mash it with the side of the knife. Mix it into the yogurt. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Prepare the Filling & Finish:
450 grams (1 pound) lean ground lamb
2 shallots OR 1 small onion
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 to 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil

Drain the soaked bulgur well, and return it to the mixing bowl. Add the ground lamb.

Peel and mince the shallots or onion, and add to the bowl. Wash, dry and finely mince the basil and mint. Add them to the bowl, along with the seasonings. Mix well until smoothly blended.

Rinse the vegetables and drain them well. Use the oil to grease your shallow baking pan for roasting the vegetables. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Use the meat mixture to stuff the vegetables, arranging them in the prepared pan as you go. They should fit together just snugly. If using the tomatoes, set the caps back onto them once the are stuffed. Pour in enough water around the vegetables to cover the bottom of the pan by about 1/4". Cover the baking pan, with its own lid if it has one, or with aluminium foil if it doesn't.

Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes covered, then 15 minutes uncovered. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Drain off most of the liquid before serving - I saved the cooking liquid for soup.

Just before serving, drizzle first the yogurt sauce and then the herb oil over the vegetables. I tend to not use it all, and then pass the extra for anyone who wants to add a little more.

Last year at this time I made Snap Peas with Chive & Dill Dressing.

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