Welcome back to our weekly Cook N Bake Turkish Series!
This week we have a special recipe coming from a special friend of mine who lives in Istanbul. I’ve known Ceren for a few years now, she is one of those people who I will always consider a friend although although I could go years without seeing her. So of course, when we here at Rometti decided to dedicate five weeks to Turkish cuisine, I couldn’t help but thinking of her and she promptly emailed me one of her mom’s favorite recipes: Turkish Stuffed Zucchini.
Istanbul was the center of the Ottoman cuisine. Being the capital, chefs would be called to the imperial court to represent their local cuisine, test it and amalgamate it. Turkish cuisine was not important only for the empire, but for all people as well. As a matter of fact during the month of Ramadan there would be households open to all neighbors to stop by and grab a bite.
Stuffed vegetables are typical of Turkish cuisine: they are commonly called dolma. Rice is often the main ingredient for the stuffing, together with the part of the vegetable that was carved out, and spices. Vegetables are a dominant ingredient compared to meat, which is often served in smaller portions or is used for flavoring.
Turkish cuisine is very simple, and doesn’t use a lot of saturated fats. As a matter of fact olive oil is usually the main oil used for cooking, together with sunflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, sesame oil and walnut oil.
Even if you are not a fan of vegetables you won’t be able to say no to this appetizing, flavorful dish that all moms love to make in Turkey! Your children will love it too!
2 lb zucchini
1½ cups rice
1 medium onion, chopped finely
½ cup parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp dried mint
1 tsp salt to taste
½ tsp black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2-3 tomatoes, sliced (for covering tops)
Wash and drain the rice. Chop the onions finely and mix all the ingredients but hot water and the zucchini. Wash the zucchini and make scratches or parallel marks with a fork, or you may peel them in stripes. Cut the stems. If the zucchini are too long cut them in half, then scrape inside of each piece of zucchini using a small spoon, making them hollow. You may sprinkle with salt inside.
Stuff each hollow zucchini with the rice stuffing, leaving about ¼ inch part on top. Cover each stuffed zucchini either with a slice of tomato or stems of the zucchini. Place them in a pot leaving no room in between. Add about 1 inch of hot water to cover the zucchini and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Take them over serving plate and serve with either plain or garlic yogurt. You may garnish with dill.
Recipe courtesy of Ceren Ates.