Slow Cooked Stuffed Zucchini

Old fashioned as they might be, there is a joy in stuffed vegetables, oozing with tomatoey rice or chickpea fillings, perhaps covered with cheese, melted and dripping down the sides. Nothing quite says cold weather more than stuffed vegetables. We love them. But then we were never one for fashion, especially in food.

This recipe is Turkish in origin, although many versions appear around the Middle East and gulf regions, from Israel to Afghanistan. We are stuffing our zucchini from the garden, the late ones that have grown slightly larger. We stuff them flat, that is, laying on their length, slit in half, and cooked with the stuffing in hollows left by the removal of their seeds and soft core. You can, of course, stuff them vertical – cutting into lengths without splitting down the middle, and using a manakra from your Middle Eastern store, to hollow out the middles – sort of like coring an apple.

We are using Ottolenghi’s recipe in Plenty More, but many similar recipes abound, using a range of grains to give substance to the filling. We are using Ottolenghi’s recipe because we have a little project at the moment, to cook through Plenty More, so it is a convenient way to add another dish to our project’s Cooked list.

The thing about many Zucchini dishes is that they are just as delightful served at room temperature as well as warm – this dish, for example, is divine. Today’s recipe is in the same class – serve it warmish, or at room temperature, with goat’s feta (Middle Eastern feta, beautifully creamy) and a salad of sliced onion, radish and tomato. Excellent. Make it a first course or a main dish.

Ottolenghi has changed the recipe for this dish over time, reducing the time taken to cook the stuffed zucchini from 2 hours to 40 mins. That raised a warning signal for us. We find that it all depends on your heat levels. I cooked mine with a heat diffuser to keep the heat low and it takes all of 2 hours to ensure the rice is cooked well. Higher heat levels will mean that cooking time is shorter.

Our suspicion is that the longer time might be more traditional, but less photogenic or visually pleasing. It is often the case with dishes from countries like Greece and Turkey, and neighbouring countries, that dishes are cooked longer than might be fashionable these days. Flavour goes through the roof but the visual appeal is lost. It’s a pity that we put so much store on visual presentation.

HOWEVER, we found that using Ottolenghi’s recipe, the zucchini was overcooked and the rice just a tad undercooked, even after 2 hours. After all, it is being steamed rather than boiled as is usual. Our recommendation is that the rice should be par-cooked before using in the stuffing, and that the cooking time is then reduced to 40 – 60 mins so that the rice is really soft. As it is, the recipe does not work. (See this Guardian article which also recommends precooking rice for stuffed courgettes in general.)

I am leaving the recipe as it appears in the book, in case I missed something or you have other insights and views. If so, let me know. It is unusual to have an Ottolenghi recipe that does not work.

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Stuffed Tomatoes with Cheese, Peppers Stuffed with Cherry Tomatoes, and Okra Stuffed with Chilli Paste.

Browse all of our Stuffed recipes and all of our Zucchini dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Vegetables with Indian Flavours

How quirky the British can be at times, especially when it comes to all things Indian. British Indian cuisine is a food genre all to itself, with little relationship to the food of India. The famous Chicken Tikka Masala, for example, is British, not Indian. Vindaloo is a term used for any hot curry in England, not the specific and terrifyingly hot pork curry of Goa on the coast of West India, with its roots in the Portuguese occupation.

And there is another dish – Indian Ratatouille. Yes, my friends, it is a thing. Throw a few spices at a ratatouille and you have Indian Ratatouille. The French food masters must be turning in their graves.

And then Ottolenghi takes this (perhaps somewhat arrogant) British invention and makes it even more Indian – throwing out some of the the traditional vegetables, adding potatoes and okra, beans and tomatoes, and incorporating Bengali spices, tamarind and curry leaves. Has he insulted the French, the Indians and the British? Probably not, because the result is divine – let the food speak for itself, despite its name.

“A great ratatouille is one in which the vegetables interact with each other, but are still discernible from each other. The trick is to cook them just right: not over, not under.”

I cannot bring myself to call this dish Indian Ratatouille, so for me it is Vegetables with Indian Flavours. Panch Phoran is an Indian whole seed mix – it is available at Indian groceries, or you can make it yourself by mixing equal amounts of fenugreek, fennel, black mustard, nigella and cumin.

This Ottolenghi dish is from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Caponata and Chargrilled Pumpkin Salad with Labneh and Walnut Salsa.

All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes. Browse all of our Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices

Here is another Poritha Kootu – Mung Dal with vegetables – for a quick and delicious meal. This version is not spicy, very little spice is added, just chillies and cumin with coconut. It celebrates the taste and textures of the dal and the vegetables.

Sometimes Poritha Kootu is called a Lentil Vegetable Stew. It is a reasonable description, as it is thicker than Poritha Kuzhambu, and contains multiple vegetables rather than just one.

Are you after other Kootu recipes? Try Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind, Poritha Kootu without Tamarind, and Poritha Kootu with Sambar Spices.

Or perhaps you prefer Mung Dal recipes. We recommend Amaranth Leaves Masiyal, Mung Dal with Cumin and Spinach, Gentle Mung Soup, and Mung Soup with Amaranth Greens.

You can find all of our Kootu recipes here, all of the Sambar and Kuzhambu recipes here, and all of our Mung recipes here. Our Indian Dishes are all here. Or simply explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Bucatini con Zucchini | Bucatini with Zucchini

Bucatini are the long hollow pasta noodles, like slightly thicker spaghetti but with a hole though the middle that helps it cook in reasonable time. They are really delicious. I grabbed some zucchini from the garden and char grilled them to make this simple but delicious pasta dish for a week day lunch with a friend. It is a simple recipe that allows the taste of the cheeses to shine through. Gorgeous.

Similar recipes include Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes, Bucatini with a Raw Tomato Sauce, Marinated Zucchini Gratin, and Pasta with Zucchini and Pesto.

Browse all of our pasta dishes and all of our Zucchini recipes. Our Italian dishes are here.  Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Zucchini, Lemon and Dill Salad

Our vegetable patch has been producing teeny zucchini, and they are just perfect for char grilling, for turning into the most delicious salads, including in veg patties and fritters, grating into pudla, and mixing with yoghurt for pachadis and raitas. Today is a salad, lemony and herby, just perfect for warm days and outdoor BBQs.

Similar recipes include Marinated Zucchini and Tomato Salad, and Zucchini Salad with Bocconcini.

Browse all of our Zucchini Salads and all of our Zucchini recipes. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Poritha Kootu | Recipe Without Tamarind

Mung dal has that immediate effect of making you feel good – supported, nourished, loved. Because of this quality – Miso Soup has it as well – dishes with Mung dal have become our go-to recipes after late nights and missed sleep, when work is far too busy and when there is disruption in our lives. Often it is a simple Mung Soup or Mung Dal, or Kitchari, all made in under 30 minutes, but today we make Poritha Kootu.

Kootu (Koottu, Kothsu) is a type of Kuzhambu, and is any vegetable combination with Mung Dal and freshly ground mild spices (but usually without sambar powder). Occasionally Toor Dal is used. Cumin is considered the defining spice for Kootu. Sometimes black pepper is used, but it seems fenugreek is never used. Kootu is a thicker dish than Sambar or Kuzhambu. You could say that Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu are very similar, except that Poritha Kootu is made with Mung Dal, has more vegetables and is much thicker.

Many kootus are spiced with a coconut, cumin and green chillies paste but this recipe, from Meenakshi Ammal, uses red chillies in the paste. As usual, her recipe takes some unpicking as it a little maze-like. It always takes a bit of a detective work to unravel some of her recipes in Vol 1 of Cook and See. I feel like a sleuth as I work my way through her complex instructions.

Recipes for Kootu vary from region to region, town to town, household to household. Some places define Poritha Kootu by the inclusion of pepper and urad dal in its seasoning, which makes it a variation of Kootu. This is at odds with the way Meenakshi Ammal makes Poritha Kootu – her recipe does not include pepper.

I have used zucchini with other vegetables in this dish – zucchini is still a slightly exotic vegetable in India where it was only recently introduced. I have paired it with potatoes and drumstick. It’s kinda special, as the zucchini and drumsticks are home grown.

Similar recipes include Poritha Kootu with Coconut Chilli Paste and Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind.

Or perhaps you prefer Mung Dal recipes. We recommend Mung Dal with Cumin and Spinach, Gentle Mung Soup, and Mung Soup with Amaranth Greens.

You can find all of our Sambar and Kuzhambu recipes here, and all of our Mung recipes here. Our Indian Dishes are all here. Or simply explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Herb and Garlic Marinated Zucchini Gratin

As I write this we have had a long weekend of record breaking temperatures in the 40C’s, maxing out at 44C. Then this week we are experiencing record breaking low temperatures for January. It’s the weather that demands turning the oven on and baking something.

This year the zucchini crop has done much better, fruiting constantly. How gorgeous they are, direct from the bush – tiny, tender, with flavours of summer. But today, in this cold weather, I am regressing to the 1970’s by marinating the zucchini in herbs and garlic, smothering them with cheese and baking them like a gratin. Perfect for very cool Summer weather.

Similar recipes include Potato Cheese Gratin, Gratin of Potatoes and Zucchini, and Marinated Zucchini with Bocconcini.

Browse all of our Zucchini dishes and our Gratin dishes. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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A New Juice for Summer – Zucchini Juice

How hot can Summer days get! Even the days before Summer officially begins can have a real bite. On those days you can reach for the coolness of white wine, of course, and in this house we make a range of lassi drinks, fruit juices and iced cordials.

One thing we love is to reach for the Zucchinis and make a healthy and refreshing juice, guaranteed to combat the heat without putting a wobble in your step.

Who knew that zucchini juice is so good? I discovered it one recent summer when my neighbour kept gifting me huge zucchinis from their organic farm. There are only so many zucchinis a girl can eat! They don’t really dehydrate well, and I had made enough zucchini pickles and preserves to last all winter. So I decided to try juicing them. It was a revelation.

I am here to tell you that zucchini juice is amazing! On its own or mixed with other fruits and vegetables, it is pure refreshment in a glass on a hot morning, afternoon or evening.

Similar recipes include Roasted Green Mango Drink, Watermelon Juice with Ginger and Mint, Green Tea, Apple Juice and Strawberry CoolerStrawberry Frappe, and Summer Cooling Drinks with Juices.

Browse all of our Zucchini recipes and all of our Juices. Our Cooling Drinks are here. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Eggplant and Zucchini Baked with Chickpeas and Harissa Sauce

Oh the flavours of Morocco! And this lovely dish brings a memory of them to the table with the use of Harissa.

Harissa is a wonderful, fiery chilli and capsicum paste from Morocco and other parts of North Africa. Traditionally it is used as a condiment, and added to dishes according to taste. Used in small amounts, it enlivens stir-fries, stocks, sauces and vegetable casseroles, braises etc.

Harissa can be found in good supermarkets or Middle Eastern and North African providores. But it is also easy enough to make your own, with the advantage that you can adjust the heat level to your taste.

The dish itself is easy to make and tastes great with buttery couscous or even quinoa. We made it on a Summery day that was cooler – blessed relief from the intense heat, and a day where we were not afraid to turn the oven on. It takes 40 mins to cook, but can take longer depending on your cookware – we used terracotta and that always takes a bit longer.

Similar dishes include this Zucchini a la Grecque – a cold dish, perfect for heat waves, Steamed Eggplant and Zucchini with Chilli Paste, and a Baked Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Sauce.

For Eggplant dishes with Middle Eastern flavours try Saffron and Rosewater Scented Aubergine, Eggplants, Sultanas and Pinenuts with Yoghurt Dressing, and Fragrant Eggplant with a Garlic Yoghurt Sauce.

All of our Eggplant dishes are here, and our Zucchini recipes here. Browse our Moroccan recipes. Or spend some time exploring our easy Mid Summer recipes.

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Salad of Marinated Zucchini and Tomatoes

Zucchini takes extremely well to marination, particularly with Mediterranean flavours such as garlic, olive oil, oregano. Mix them up and leave for 30 mins – 1 hour, then serve. You can mix them with Bocconcini, for example, or, like this recipe, with some beautiful tomatoes. Fresh, young zucchini has the most glorious texture.

I have used small cherry tomatoes here, but use any tomatoes you have – halving or slicing them depending on the size. I like to mix green, semi ripe and ripe tomatoes as it gives variation in flavours, but this is probably only possible if you or your best friend grow your own tomatoes. Green tomatoes are difficult to find these days, yet I love them.

Throw in a small zucchini flower or two if you have them.

Are you looking for other Tomato Salads? Try Green Tomato and Pineapple Salsa, Artichoke Hearts with Tomatoes Salad, My Mother’s Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Creamy Dressing, and the very red Tomato and Pomegranate Salad.

Or are Zucchini dishes your preference? Try Zucchini, Lemon and Dill Salad, Zucchini Preserved in Oil with Mint, Chilli and Garlic, Zucchini Rice, Zucchini Fry, and Poached with Other Vegetables in Wine.

All of our Salads are here for you to browse. Or just our Tomato Salads. All Tomato Recipes can be seen here. Browse our Zucchini Recipes or trawl through our Late Summer collection of dishes.

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Pasta with Zucchini and Parsley Pesto

Using up the amount of zucchini from our garden takes some creativity. But having made Parsley Pesto, the thought of pasta, pesto and char grilled zucchini had me grilling tiny zucchini slices early one morning. A pasta lunch was in the making.

Its very easy, and any pasta can be used – spaghetti is great, but I chose to use pasta from the local Adelaide makers L’Abruzzese. I love this olive leaf pasta, tasty and slightly chewy, it has 3 colours – spinach, beetroot and regular.

If you are looking for more pasta recipes try Tagliatelle with Walnuts and Lemon, Spring Pasta with Broad Beans and Mint, Fettuccine with Cheese and Pepper, Pasta with a Cauliflower Sauce, Pasta with Tomato and Salted Ricotta, and Elegant Orzo Pasta with Wilted Spinach and Pine Nuts. And check out our home made eggless pasta.

You might also like to read Why we Cook Pasta al dente.

Or perhaps some zucchini recipes – try Bucatini con Zucchini, Zucchini Rice, Zucchini Fry, and Poached with Other Vegetables in Wine.

Our pesto recipes include this Parsley Pesto as well as Asparagus Pesto, Coriander Pesto, and a mix and match approach.

Or browse all of our Zucchini Recipes, all of our Pasta Dishes, all of the Pesto recipes. Our Italian Recipes are here, or simply browse our Late Summer dishes.

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Gratin de Pommes de Terre et Courgettes | Gratin of Potatoes and Zucchini with Thyme

Gratin – sometimes written as gratinée or au gratin—is a very flexible recipe where an ingredient is cooked in a shallow dish – a gratin dish which is an  oval-shaped oven-safe baking and serving pan. The Gratin is topped with cheese or buttery breadcrumbs that will crisp up when the dish is baked in a hot oven or placed under a grill. Adding just cream will also produce a lightly browned crust if baked in high heat. Gratins are usually served straight from the dish.

Gratin originated in French cuisine. The best known gratin dishes are Potato Gratin  and Pommes Dauphinoises. Many Tians are gratins too, only in disguise! Also Baked Pasta dishes! Often vegetables are covered with cheese, cream, and/or breadcrumbs and baked or grilled for a beautiful gratin dish.

This recipe is a beautiful, buttery, creamy gratin that combines zucchini with potatoes and flavours it with thyme. A wonderful match.

Are you looking for other Gratin dishes? Try Creamy Potato Cheese Gratin, Gratinéed Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes Gratinéed with Tomatoes and Cumin, and  Endive/Witlof with a Cheesy Topping.

Would you like to try other Potato dishes? Try Cumin and Pepper Baked Potato Wedges, Perfect Roast Potatoes, and Surprise Potato Tartin.

Or try some Zucchini recipesZucchini Preserved in Olive Oil, Making Zucchini Juice, Zucchini Rice, Steamed Thai Eggplant and Zucchini, and Zucchini Fry with Spices.

You might also like to browse all of our Gratin dishes here, and all of our Potato recipes here. Or all of the Zucchini recipes here and here. Check out our easy Early Autumn recipes. Also, feel free to browse vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006 in our Retro Recipes series.

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Zucchini Rice, Indian Style

Anyone who has ever grown zucchini will know that you can get a glut of zucchini very quickly. I planted 4 plants this year, forgetting how large the plants get, and they seem to be taking over the veggie garden. They have already swallowed 2 chilli bushes and a whole lot of radishes!

So I have the opportunity to explore zucchini recipes at this time of year, trying to keep that glut under control. This is an Indian mixed rice – cooked rice is mixed with spices and perhaps a vegetable or other ingredient. Indian mixed rice dishes are flavoursome and healthy!

Would you like to try other Mixed Rice dishes? Try Aromatic Lemon and Curry Leaf Rice, Pepper Cumin Rice, Masala Lemon Rice, or Golden Rice.

Try these zucchini dishes: Zucchini Fry, Zucchini Thoran, and Marinated Zucchini.

You can browse all of our Mixed Rice dishes, all of our Rice dishes, our Zucchini dishes, or our Indian Recipes. Or simply explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Zucchini Thoran | Zucchini Stirfried with Green Chilli and Coconut

Turning a humble vegetable into a masterpiece.

Kerela food is so wonderful, full of the scent of coconuts and palm trees, spices and backwaters. So, blessed this week with large numbers of very large zucchinis, home and organically grown by my neighbour, this bland vegetable became a Thoran. Thorans are spicy dishes that turn mundane vegetables into a spicy delicious meal. How elegant the dish is!

Similar recipes include Spinach and Sweetcorn Bhurji, Cabbage Thoran, and Sweet Potato Poriyal.

You might like our other Thoran/Poriyal recipes, other Vegetable Fry recipes and other Zucchini recipes. Browse all our recipes from Kerala. Our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or explore our Late Summer recipes.

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Courgettes a la Grecque | Zucchini Cooked in Greek Style | A Rustic, Cold dish.

A perfect dish for hot weather

I love early morning cooking on hot days, if cooking must be done at all.  5 or 6 am is really the only comfortable time to put pot on stove. So dishes that can be eaten cold later in the day are ideal.

This recipe is a cracker. I found some scribbled notes once when I was going through my recipe paper files. And I can tell you this is good! One of Greece’s amazing and simple dishes.

Are you looking for Zucchini recipes – Try Zucchini Preserved in Olive Oil, Making Zucchini Juice, and Salad of Marinated Zucchinis and Tomatoes.

Other a la Grecque dishes include Green Beans in Tomato and Olive Oil.

Or browse all of our Zucchini recipes, and we have a number of a la Grecque recipes as well. Or explore our Greek dishes. Be inspired by our Late Summer recipes.

Continue reading “Courgettes a la Grecque | Zucchini Cooked in Greek Style | A Rustic, Cold dish.”