8 April, 2013
This comfort food is very popular in Lebanon and tastes delicious. The best zucchini to use is the small, slightly bulbous, pale green variety often sold as lebanese zucchini.
Hollow out the zucchini using a manakra – a tool like a long apple corer designed for this purpose; you can find it in Middle Eastern food stores.
Prep Time: 20 min(s)
Cook Time: 1 hr(s) 15 min(s)
- 10 small lebanese zucchinis, approximately 10 cm long
- 2 heaped tbsp of tomato paste
- Plain yogurt
- 1 cup ~ short grain rice, washed
- 250 g ~ lean minced beef
- 1 ~ medium tomato, finely diced
- ½ ~ onion, finely diced
- ⅓ cup ~ chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ⅓ cup ~ chopped mint
- ⅓ cup ~ chopped coriander
- ¼ tsp ~ chilli powder
- 1 tsp ~ baharat or allspice
- 1 tsp ~ ground cumin
- ½ tsp ~ freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp ~ salt
- 20 g ~ butter, softened
- 2 tbsp ~ olive oil
Thoroughly mix the stuffing ingredients together.
Cut off the zucchini stalks, then slice off the dried tips at the opposite ends without removing too much flesh. Carefully hollow out the zucchini from the stalk end by pushing and turning a manakra into the flesh. The tool will remove thin fingers of flesh at a time; keep hollowing until you have a generous cavity (reserve the zucchini flesh for another purpose such as an omelette). Fill a bowl with water and add a teaspoon of salt. Wash the zucchini in the salted water (this helps to keep them firm when cooking), then drain.
Fill each zucchini with the stuffing to 2/3 to allow the filling to expand. It’s easiest to fill the zucchini by hand, tapping them on the bench every now and then to settle the stuffing down. (Do not press the stuffing). If you have any leftover stuffing, form it into meatballs.
Fill a large saucepan with water and add 2 tablespoons of salt and the tomato paste. Add the stuffed zucchini and meatballs (this will give more taste to the sauce) and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for about 1 hour, allowing the sauce to reduce. Serve the stuffed zucchini with a little of the sauce and a dollop of plain yogurt.