Stuffed Courgettes and Peppers
With the recent streak of moderating the meat intake and paying more attention to the vegetable side of things, my much better half has been dropping hints about rice stuffed courgettes. Sultan does trays of ready-cored courgettes (zucchini or baby marrow, depending where one is from). This makes it a quick and uncomplicated dish to prepare. I do love courgettes. Sweet peppers are easy to core and stuff as are cabbage leaves – the secret with cabbage is to carefully shave the white stem to make the rolling and folding easier.
Take 1 tomato, 1 onion, ½ bunch of dill and ½ bunch of parsley, salt, pepper and a teaspoon of seven spice powder. Cut the herbs and vegetables finely and/or whizzed in a food processor with the seasoning. Take ½ cup to 1 cup of rice, needs to Egyptian rice or a risotto style rice such as Arborio as we are looking for an absorbent, slightly dense texture. For the vegetarian version, mix the rice with the vegetables and herbs and a couple of tablespoons of oil. Extra virgin olive oil for preference, but you can use any other of your preference/availability in the store cupboard.
When stuffing the courgettes/peppers, leave half a centimetre spare as in cooking the rice grains will expand. After tightly packing a large saucepan (depending on how many dolmas you are cooking, add a cup of water or vegetable stock, with the courgettes/peppers standing as in the picture above. If going the cabbage route, just pack tightly.
The above is a typical Egyptian vegetable version. Of course you can, if you wish, add minced meat to the rice/herb etc. mix, in which case add water or meat stock as the cooking medium. If you are going the meat route you will seriously want the 75% lean version as you actually want to dissolve the fat and use it as your cooking medium. It happens to be cheaper as a bonus, but the main point is that if you are a meat eater, probably you wish your meat to taste ‘meaty’ and juicy, rather than dry.
Put the saucepan on high heat initially to get the liquid to boil, then put medium low for about 45 minutes, checking of course that everything is working fine and not drying out.
Serve with a smile. Enjoy!
The Twist. At the stage where you are chopping the herbs with tomato and onion, for the veggie version, add ground walnut to the mix and the parsley can be substituted with coriander. With the meat version, add pine nuts. At the end of the day it is the kind of dish one can ‘play’ with and as long as the basic principles are followed, you can, if you wish add what flavour profile suits your taste.
By: Resident Chef, Harvey Pincis
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