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.

Continue reading “Slow Cooked Stuffed Zucchini”

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Stuffed Vine Leaves | Dolmades

Dolmas, or Dolmades, are little parcels wrapped in grape vine leaves and simmered until the filling is cooked and the vine leaves are tender. Although there is always a rush to make them in Spring as the vine leaves appear, they can be cooked right through to Autumn. Indeed, if you are diligent enough to freeze or preserve vine leaves, they can also be made in Winter. Of course, if home preserving is not your thing, you can always purchase preserved vine leaves (I’ve seen large jars of them). The leaves can be stuffed with many things, but rice, burghul, or a mix of the two, are common.

These dolmas are stuffed with burghul (bulgar, or cracked wheat) and rice in a typically Middle Eastern version with currants and pine nuts. They are delicious. Serve with lemon wedges.

Similar recipe include Burghul Wrapped in Vine Leaves, Grape Leaf Encrusted Rice Pie, and Grilled Pecorino Wrapped in Vine Leaves.

Browse all of our Grape Vine Leaf Recipes, and all of our Dolmas. All of our Middle Eastern dishes are here. Or explore our Early Autumn recipes.

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Spiced Burghul Wrapped in Vine Leaves | Yaprak Sarma

Today we have a variety of Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), of which there are many types across the Mediterranean and Middle East. This Turkish recipe uses Burghul, which forms a bright red and a little firey stuffing for the vine leaves. I like to use a type of Burghul available in Middle Eastern grocers, where burghul is mixed with vermicelli. Its a delicious alternative.

Use fresh vine leaves (my preference) or preserved vine leaves, but rinse the preserved ones well to get rid of any saltiness.

The recipe, which I have altered a little, comes via the SBS site which credits the book Istanbul: Recipes From the Heart of Turkey, by Rebecca Seal, for the original. Vine leaves can be stuffed with a number of fillings, but rice and burghul are the most common. The vine leaves are wrapped around the filling, and the little fat cigar-shaped dolmas are simmered in water, olive oil and lemon until the vine leaves are tender. In Turkey they are often served for mezze with yoghurt.

Similar recipes include Vine Leaf Powder, Pecorino in Vine Leaves, Grape Leaf Encrusted Rice Pie, and Mushrooms Baked in Grape Vine Leaves.

Try also Burghul with Pinenuts and Sultanas, and Spicy Chickpea and Burghul Soup.

Browse all of our Grape Vine Leaf recipes and all of our Turkish dishes. Our Burghul recipes are here. Or explore our Early Summer recipes.

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Char Grilled Banana Chillies Stuffed with Tomatoes and Spices | Bharwan Mirch

Perfect for a light lunch.

While this dish can be cooked on the stove top or in the oven, it is the perfect dish for a weekend BBQ. Served with yoghurt and flatbread, it is a perfect light weekend lunch.

Use either hot or mild banana chillies. Hot Banana chillies contrast well with the more mild filling. Mild Banana chillies have a mild sweet flavour, despite their chilli-related name. They are not at all hot or spicy. And we temper the heat of the spices in the stuffing by using warming spices and only a little chilli, adjusted to your taste.

Bharwan means stuffed in Hindi. The stuffing is made from chickpea flour and spices, moistened with tomatoes. You can basically add any ingredient of your choice into the stuffing. The combination of the banana chillies and mild tangy stuffing is quite flavoursome and this dish makes a great light lunch or side dish. It is a recipe from Rajasthan in India.

Similar recipes include Stuffed Okra with Onions and Spices, Stuffed Mushrooms, and Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice.

Feel free to explore our Capsicum recipes, and our Indian recipes. Our Indian Essentials are here, and Late Spring recipes can be explored here.

Continue reading “Char Grilled Banana Chillies Stuffed with Tomatoes and Spices | Bharwan Mirch”

Whole Okra Stuffed with Onions and Spices

In this okra dish, the okra are slit and stuffed with an onion-based spice mixture before being quickly sautéed and then steamed until tender. It is a delicious dish that does not pack a chilli heat punch. The spices used are gentle and warming, and it is a good dish for convincing your friends that okra is a special and wonderful vegetable.

This is a Madhur Jaffrey okra dish. She seems to have a special affinity to okra, and loves them with onions.

Are you after other Okra dishes? Try Okra with Chilli Spice Paste, Sri Lankan Okra Curry, Warm Salad of Charred Okra, and Sambar with Okra.

You can browse all of our Okra dishes, all Apricot recipes, and all of our Indian dishes. Our Indian Essentials are here. Or simply explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Aubergines Fourrées | Baked Eggplant Stuffed with Cheese and Tomatoes

You will really enjoy this recipe. Softened eggplants are slit and fanned, and its slices interwoven with cheese, tomatoes and peppers. They are then baked on a bed of the sweetest caramelised onions, and the cheese melts. If, like me, you use mozzarella, it oozes everywhere! Cheesey Eggplants – who can resist?

If you use a cheese that holds its shape during baking it won’t form a bed of oozy cheese but rather stay in the eggplant, but we love this oozing aspect of the dish. It is perfect for Late Autumn.

It’s a French recipe, so I suggest some French wine and a green salad, for a light lunch eaten outside on a gorgeous Autumn day sitting under a gorgeously coloured tree raining leaves. Do enjoy!

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Pasta Bake with Cabbage and Cheese, Baked Eggplant Steaks, and Creamy Baked Sweet Potato.

Would you like more Eggplant recipes? Try Cheese and Eggplant Torte, Roasted Eggplant with a Garlic Sauce, and Persian Style Eggplant.

Browse all of our Aubergine recipes and all of our French dishes. Our Baked recipes are here. Or enjoy our Late Autumn dishes.

Feel free to browse vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006, in our Retro Recipes series.

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Ladyfingers Recheio | Okra with Chilli-Spice Paste | A Recipe from Goa

Okra is a much maligned vegetable, which, badly cooked, falls into the same category as Brussel Sprouts. But cooked well, it is undeniably wonderful. It is the mucilaginous substance inside okra that gives the favourite okra dish of North America, Gumbo, its characteristic silky, gelatinous texture. It is an essential ingredient of Jambalaya, and a favourite of the Greek kitchen where it is served with fresh tomato and onion.

Okra also form the basis of many a good Indian curry, snack and side dish. In curries, they are often used whole, trimmed only of stalk, but keeping the conical top which is discarded at time of eating. The soft, slightly moist texture of the interior is part of its appeal.

These green-ribbed seed pods are a good supply of Vitamin A and C, calcium and iron. Eat them weekly! At the time of writing, we are conducting an #okracheck each month to track availability and price of okra in different cities.

Okra are slippery little suckers. But this recipe from the gorgeous beaches of Goa overcomes that problem by pre salting and then stuffing the okra with the Goan spicy mix called Rechad Masala. These are great little snacks or side dish to an Indian meal.

Enjoy okra? Try our Baked Okra with Gingery Tomato, Goa Fried Okra, Race Kuzhambu and Avial. Or have a look at other Goan recipes – Kidney Bean Feijoada, Potato and Sweet Potato Curry, and Sweet Surnoli Dosa.

Feel free to browse other vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006 in the Retro Recipes series. You might also like all of our Okra recipes here and here. Explore our Indian recipes here. Or take some time to go through our easy Early Autumn recipes here.

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Fried Ladyfingers | Fried Okra | Goa Style

How good is okra! Misunderstood by many, if cooked well it is amazing. This recipe is a crispy, spicy dish that is perfect for a snack. Gorgeous too.

In this recipe, the okra are first salted and drained, and then marinated in a simple spice paste before being drenched in semolina and fried. The semolina makes the okra quite crispy and the spices give them a little heat. It is a simpler version of this stuffed Okra recipe.

Enjoy okra? Try our Goan Ladyfinger Recheio, Race KuzhambuCrispy Okra in Yoghurt (Pachadi), Okra with a Cumin and Yoghurt Sauce, and Avial.

Or have a look at other Goan recipes – Kidney Bean Feijoada, Potato and Sweet Potato Curry, and Sweet Surnoli Dosa.

You might also like read about Okra, and then browse all of our Okra recipes here. Have a look at all of our Goan recipes. Explore our Indian recipes too. Or take some time to go through our easy Early Autumn recipes. Feel free to browse other vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006 in the Retro Recipes series.

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Stuffed Mushrooms on the BBQ

Cooking Mushrooms on a Sunny Autumn Day

On a sunny and beautiful day in Autumn or Spring it is tempting to fire up the BBQ on the balcony, and get the field mushrooms out of the fridge.

Mushrooms cook well on Aussie BBQs (I guess these are called grills in the US). Drizzled with oil, cooked over a medium heat until softening, topped with some fresh and beautiful ingredients, and served when bubbling and sizzling. Truly a taste worthy of an outdoor meal.

Similar recipes include Grilled Pecorino in Vine Leaves, Mushrooms Baked in Vine Leaves, Risotto with Mushrooms, and Slow Cooked Creamy Mushrooms.

Feel free to browse our Mushroom recipes and our BBQ recipes. Check out our easy Mid Autumn recipes.

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Capsicums Stuffed with Kidney Beans and Feta

Not a fancy dish, Capsicums Stuffed with Kidney Beans and Feta is a comfort dish. A dish for cold Friday nights in front of the TV.

With the remains of a bag of lentils sitting falornly on the kithen bench, I came across a recipe for Capsicums stuffed with Kidney Beans in my pile of hand written recipes saved over years. I am also a sucker for stuffed vegetables. So when this recipe turned up, I knew that I had lunch in the bag.

This isn’t a fancy dish. It is a comfort, homely, family dish that can be served for a quick, warming lunch or with a salad for a dinner eaten in front of the TV.

You might also like to try Drying Capsicums for Snacks, or Bhajji, Indian Vegetable Fritters. Or browse all of our Kidney Bean recipes and all of our Stuffed recipes here and here. Our Capsicum recipes are here and here. Find some inspiration in our Spring recipes here and here. Continue reading “Capsicums Stuffed with Kidney Beans and Feta”

Baked Peppers with Cherry Tomatoes

Capsicums stuffed with cherry tomatoes and a basil sauce.

Tender. What a great name for a book. And what a book it is. Nigel Slater speaks so engagingly and comfortingly about his garden near Highbury Barn in London. He cooks my style of food – homely, so so simple, yet packing incredible flavours. Despite being British in style he loves to use Indian spices and experiment with flavour combinations.

When I say “British in style” I don’t want to conjure up images of old-fashioned British food like chip butties and steak and kidney pie. I do imply, though, that the food is cold weather food – root vegetables, cabbage, oven cooked food. For even a hot day in the UK does not pass muster as a summer day in Australia. Nigel would argue that some of his food is for the hotter seasons, but his recipes are not, say, like Bill Granger’s, built with the 30C – 45C degree heat of good ol’e Aussie summers where it is hot enough to cook a falafel on the sidewalk and everyone who is sane heads for the beach.

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Pomodori con Riso | Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice

A wintery dish.

This recipe is really easy, and I love the textures. Served with a salad, or some roasted or baked vegetables, it is a delicious meal.

Stuffed vegetables went out with the Ark, but are coming back now. The rice is cooked in the juice and internal flesh of the tomatoes which adds a wonderful taste to the rice.

A Social Photographer once quipped “Life is too short to stuff tomatoes.” I am not sure what she was referring to, but I happen to like stuffed tomatoes.

Are you looking for Stuffed Tomato recipes? Try Tomatoes Gratinéed with Cheese, Tomatoes Stuffed with Olives and Ricotta, and Tomatoes Stuffed with Feta and Basil.

We have many Tomato recipes. Our favourites are Confit Tomatoes, Tomato Lassi and Tomato Salad with Garlicky Mayo, and Tomato Bharta.

You can browse all of our Tomato recipes here. Or see all of our Stuffed dishes here. Get some inspiration from our Mid Autumn recipes.

Continue reading “Pomodori con Riso | Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice”

Pomodori Gratinati | Tomatoes Gratineed with Cheese

In Autumn, tomatoes are at their best, especially for cooking.

In Autumn tomatoes come into their own. Not only are the tomatoes a little juicer, a little sweeter away from that hot sun, but the weather is a little cooler and so cooking tomatoes becomes an option again – baked, grilled, fried, sauteed, sauced, pureed – you name the cooking method and tomatoes will have it covered.

Gratineed tomatoes are filled with cheese, herbs and breadcrumbs and oven baked for slightly retro but awesome lunches or as a side dish to a main meal. They can be cooked in covered BBQs as well.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Creamy Potato Cheese Gratin, Oven Baked Tomatoes, and Baked Stuffed Tomatoes with Rice.

Or if you are after other Gratin dishes, try Pasta Bake with Cabbage and Cheese, Potato and Cheddar Gratin, and Caramelised Witlof with a Cheesey Topping.

You might like to browse other Baked Tomatoes here. All of our Tomato recipes are here and here, or Italian recipes here. and here. Or find inspiration in our easy Autumn recipes here and here.

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