Since we are semi-on vacation, I have no recipe for this Thursday. BUT, I do have a great, great site for finding Turkish & Mediterranean recipes! I absolutely love Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook for her delicious and easy-to-follow recipes. I highly recommend checking it out–you won’t be disappointed with anything you try.
Try-a-New-Food Thursday: Stuffed Zucchini (Dolmas) are only slightly more work than plain, boring stuffed peppers
I have lately been less than pleased with the stuffed peppers I’ve made. The skins have been a little thick, and the peppers a little tasteless, and the ratio of filling-to-vessel has skewed a little too much in the direction of the filling. Which is not a calamity when the peepers have been only mediocre in taste. But, still, my ideal dolma has not been achieved.
THESE! Made with zucchini rather than peppers. I know! It’s like I’m completely cheating, setting you up to think that I had some fabulous new way of making peppers. Well, I do. Calling them zucchini instead! Um, anyway, yes.
Setting aside the fact that bell peppers come with a big cavity just waiting to be stuffed and you must actually dig out the hole in the zucchini (which requires a steady hand and an old-fashioned style vegetable peeler, I have found), it’s really no more work to use zucchini. And you can use any recipe you like for the stuffing. I generally go with white rice, but bulgar works nicely as well. We like ours with ground beef, tomato paste, onion, and served with plain yogurt.
Stuffed Zucchini Dolmas
- 4 whole Zucchinis
- ½ pounds ground beef
- ½ cups rice
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1-3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
- 1/2-1 cup Water
- 2 tbs Plain Tomato Paste, divided
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- Black Pepper
- 1 cup Plain Yogurt, Optional
Saute the onion and garlic, if using, in a large pan with the olive oil. When starting to turn translucent, add the ground beef. Salt and pepper generously. Cook a few minutes, then add the rice (rinsed and drained), half the tomato paste, and water (enough water to blend all ingredients well. Let cook for a few minutes on low heat.
Clean zucchini, and cut off the ends. Clean out the insides with a vegetable peeler. Save the insides for another recipe, if you are brave and thrifty like that.
Stuff the zucchini, leaving room for the rice to expand. Put them in a pot with a sauce made from 1 tbs tomato paste and hot water. Cook over low-medium heat for 20 minutes or until the zucchini are done.
Serve with tomato sauce and plain yogurt.
Bon appetit, and Happy Fourth of July!
One time, in college, I was making dinner for some friends. I was distracted by socializing and cooking at the same time, or perhaps I was nervous about hosting dinner, or something, because I put the pot of water on to boil, dumped in the spaghetti, and then came back 8 minutes later to a pot of clumpy, sticky, slimy and yet uncooked pasta. I believe dinner ended with a box of mac’n'cheese that someone else took responsibility for preparing.
My desire to adhere to a “dump it all in together and cook” style of cooking is long-standing, then. This works really well with dump cakes, casseroles, and not much else. Recipes which require more than one mixing bowl don’t usually make it into my weekly repertoire. So you can image my delight when I saw this photo posted on a friend’s feed:
I had to investigate further. It looked like they had just dumped everything together into one pot…I hopped over to Apron Strings blog, and lo and behold, One-pot pasta! My dream come true! The recipe originally comes from Martha Stewart’s magazine, by the way.
So, I leapt in with both feet, making nothing else for dinner, not a single other dish, crossing my fingers that this would please kids and husband alike. Not that they are particularly picky. The kids, anyway.
Okay, so mine doesn’t look as pretty as theirs, but here it is, all prepped and pre-cooking:
As always, I made some tweaks to the recipe. Here is what I did:
ONE POT WONDER TOMATO BASIL PASTA
Served 4 adults and 2 kids as an entree, with one serving left over (so, 7)
- 16 ounces (1 box) Whole Wheat Spaghetti pasta
- 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid
- 1 large sweet onion, cut in julienne strips
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
- 8 large basil leaves, chopped
- large handful of fresh parsley
- 4 1/2 cups broth made from powdered chicken boullion
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Break the pasta in half, and dump in a large stock pot. Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil and parsley. Pour in chicken broth. Sprinkle on top the pepper flakes, oregano, and oil.
Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so.
It was so good. Really, it just worked–the broth boiled down into a nice sauce, the spices all worked together really well, and it was easy. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, as the kids say.
Since I was up with the dawn this morning, I made this great French toast casserole recipe for breakfast. (Thanks, Paula Deen!)
Of course, I had to tweak. I did not let it sit overnight. I also do not do the topping. Too much work, and too much butter and sugar. This dish is delicious just add it is; no fancy topping necessary.
I thought this was a lovely post on the importance of letting childhood unfold slowly, rather than rushing through.
I love the emphasis on what we, as parents, choose for our children. I would add that these choices are not neutral, but express to our kids and ourselves what is valued in our home. I know that, for example, choosing to have the kids help me fold and put away their clothes is no where near the most efficient way to get the task done. There are tears most every time. But, what I hope this choice says to them is: we are all in this together. We are a family, and it is more fun to do it together. (Also: you are expected to be learning how to do these not-fun but necessary tasks of daily life so that you can, sooner rather than later, take over doing this without help.)