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.

Until…

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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

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 cup Plain Yogurt, Optional

Directions

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!

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