Courgettes Stuffed with Herbed Rice

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Reserve the courgette/zucchini cores to make succulent fritters. The stuffing is essentially a tabbouleh salad mixture mixed with rice – it’s a great way to use up leftover tabbouleh.

Preparation Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 kg/2 lb 4 oz courgettes/zucchini or marrows
  • 625 g/1 lb 6 oz tomatoes
  • 2 small onions
  • 100 g/ oz/½ cup short-grain rice
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée/paste
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Greek yogurt, to serve
  • warm Arabic Bread, to serve

Method

  1. Rinse the courgettes/zucchini and trim off the stem ends, leaving the wide base intact. Using a vegetable corer, scrape out the flesh and seeds, being sure to remove as much of it as you can without breaking through the courgette/zucchini skin. If you do accidentally cut too hard and crack the courgettes/zucchini, you can still stuff them but you will need to be gentle with them. Set the hollowed-out courgettes/zucchini aside.
  2. Finely chop 1 of the tomatoes and 1 of the onions and put in a mixing bowl. Add the rice, half the allspice, the parsley, 1 tablespoon of the mint, half the oil and half the lemon juice. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toast the pine nuts in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan often. Add them to the mixture.
  3. Thinly slice the remaining tomatoes and onion. Drizzle a heavy-based pan with the remaining oil, then arrange layers of tomato and onion rings over the bottom. Add the remaining allspice and some salt.
  4. Stuff the courgettes/zucchini by gently packing enough of the rice mixture to fill them three-quarters full, so leaving room for the rice to expand. Put the stuffed courgettes/zucchini on top of the tomato and onion layers in the pan.
  5. Mix the tomato purée/paste with 250 ml/9 fl oz/generous 1 cup water and pour the mixture over the courgettes/zucchini in the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Lay a heatproof plate that fits inside the pan on top of the courgettes/zucchini to keep them compressed and minimize any movement. Pour in about 250 ml/9 fl oz/generous 1 cup water or enough liquid to ensure the courgettes/zucchini are immersed, though not necessarily the plate too.
  6. Heat the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to simmer, covered, for 45–60 minutes or until the courgettes/zucchini are tender. To check if they are ready, pierce gently with a fork: the flesh should be soft and the rice cooked.
  7. Meanwhile, grind the garlic and a pinch of salt using a pestle and mortar to make a paste. Add the remaining mint and pound for another minute, then mix in the remaining lemon juice. Drizzle the garlic and lemon mixture over the courgettes/zucchini. Leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes so that the flavours seep in. Serve warm or at room temperature with yogurt and warm Arabic Bread.

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