Middle Eastern Stuffed Zucchini

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When I was younger, my mother used to sit with a large pan of zucchinis and aubergines on one side of her and a large bowl of mixed lamb, rice and herbs on the other. She would sit there coring the vegetables, and ask me to stuff the hollow zucchinis and aubergines with the fragrant rice mix. I would usually come in half way through and help her on the home-run. She was always very appreciative of my help and I still cherish those times we spent together doing something we both loved, and creating lifelong passions for healthy food cooked to taste good and bring people together.

My version of Stuffed Zucchini is quite different from my Mama’s traditional recipe. I use a completely different rice mix. Firstly, mine are vegetarian and I use brown rice. I have included a host of different herbs, spices and pine nuts. Brown Rice is completely unrefined, and is rich in selenium with helps protect against many illnesses, while the Pine nuts have high levels of essential fatty acids and the zucchini is a natural antioxidant and a natural anti-inflammatory. Parsley is an incredibly rich source of micro-nutrients, full of vitamin K and C. Eating this will allow your body to truly heal.

They are a perfect blend of aromatic spice and nutty savoury flavours, and are best served hot with cool yoghurt. I invited my Mama over to taste my new recipe, and she said that they were the best she had eaten in years and some of the best she had ever eaten. This made me so proud that I would not stop smiling. This really is the seal of approval. Even if you love meat, do try these, I promise you won’t miss it one bit.

Tip: It can be very therapeutic to sit and make these on your own, but they are really a sharing a dish- form the making to the eating. So, my advice is to invite a friend over, get your kids involved or lure your partner into the kitchen and enjoy the whole experience.
It’s important to use organic food wherever you can, as its much more healthy for your body and much more healthy for our planet. I also think the food tastes better, and that’s a very good reason to go organic.

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ingredients

20 small or 10 medium Zucchinis
1 cup brown rice
1 large white onion, diced
half cup pine nuts
large handful of parsley, finely chopped
small handful of mint, finely chopped
6 medium Vine ripened tomatoes, small dice
1 tsp Ground mixed spice
½ tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Ground cardamom
8 tbsp zxtra virgin olive oil
2 pinches of pink Himalayan salt, crushed
1 twist of black pepper, freshly milled
1 pot salty water
2-3 litres of vegetable stoke

method

1. put 2 tsp of olive oil in a pan on a medium heat and add the onion. After 5 minutes when the onions become translucent, add the pine nuts. Keep them moving in the pan
2. in a large bowl, add the rice, parsley, mint, tomatoes, mixed spice, cardamom, salt, pepper and 5 tbsp of olive oil
3. add the onion and pine nut mix to the rice and thoroughly mix all the ingredients together
4. put rice to one side until you need it
5. using a corer, gently remove the inside of the Zucchini, being careful not to pierce through the skin, and not to hollow out too much, to ensure that the walls are not too thin (don’t throw away the zucchini flesh. I have a great recipe for it)
6. each time you core a zucchini, place it in the large pan of salty water.
7. once all the zucchinis are hollow, rinse them off and begin to pack with the rice mixture
8. once you have filled them in with the rice mixture, plug the open ends with the remaining cored-out zucchini pulp,
9. place the zucchinis in a tight tessellation within an empty pan. Weigh the zucchini down with an upturned side plate, fill with the vegetable stock until covering all the zucchini. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the liquid
10. bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 1hr 30 minutes. Check the pan to ensure it does not dry out.

Enjoy hot and serve with fresh yoghurt. These work very well when they are reheated too, so I would always advise making a larger batch than you need and keeping them in the fridge for quick dinners and packed-lunches.

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