Stuffed Zucchini

These pair perfectly with stuffed grape leaves.  When my mom makes a big pot, she usually combines the two together.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • Approximately 10 narrow zucchini (cut in half)
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • First, prepare the pot
    • Place your slices of tomatoes along the bottom of a small pot – this will prevent the zucchini from burning while cooking
  • Soak the rice in very hot water for 1/2 hour – then strain
  • Mix the rice with the raw ground beef with your hands – season with salt and pepper
  • With a small spoon, scoop out the pulp of the zucchini until they’re hollow, but not open all the way through – leave about 1/8″-1/4″ around the interior wall
  • Stuff the zucchini with the rice and meat
  • Line the pot with the zucchini (if you’re also making grape leaves just randomly mix in the zucchini)
  • Place a small dish on top of the zucchini to add some pressure
  • Dissolve 1 tbsp of salt in 1 cup of water (for every cup of rice you need 2 cups of water) then pour the water into the pot
  • Cook it on high heat until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low heat for approximately 1 hour
  • Check to see if the zucchini is cooked – once it’s cooked, pour in 1  1/2 oz. of fresh lemon juice
  • If the rice is not quite cooked, add in more water a little bit at a time (2-3 oz. at a time)
  • Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and let the pot settle while covered for at least 15 minutes
  • When you’re ready to serve, put a large round platter face down on the pot and tip the pot over
  • Serve with fresh pita bread and plain yogurt
    • If you have extra rice and meat, cook it in a small pot as you would normally cook rice (roughly estimate how much water you need – rule of thumb is 2 cups water to every cup of rice)
Advertisements

Stuffed Grape Leaves

This Middle Eastern classic is my mother’s specialty.  These barely last through dinner when she makes them…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 jar of grape leaves (or freshly picked grape leaves) – approximately 100-150 leaves
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Lamb chops (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • First, prepare the pot
    • Place your slices of tomatoes along the bottom of a medium pot – this will prevent the grape leaves from burning while cooking
    • If you want to use lamb chops, brown them 1-2 tbsp of butter first and then place them on the bottom of the pot, too, in between tomato slices
  • Soak the rice in very hot water for 1/2 hour – then strain
  • Mix the rice with the raw ground beef with your hands – season with salt and pepper
  • Boil the grape leaves (jarred or fresh) in water for about 2 minutes – you want them to be tender, but not too tender
  • Place the leaves in the strainer and cut off the stems – if the leaf is too big, cut it in half (ideally, the leaf should be about 3.5 in. wide)
  • Lay out a grape leaf and and place a heaping tbsp of rice and meat in the center of the leaf – form it into the shape of a your index finger up to your knuckle (same size, too)
  • Fold the sides over onto the rice and meat and roll it up like a small cigar
  • As you roll the leaves, line them up in the large pot that you have already prepared
  • Tightly arrange the stuffed grape leaves as you roll them – this can take a bit of time!
  • Place a small dish on top of the leaves to add some pressure
  • Dissolve 1 tbsp of salt in 2 cups of water (for every cup of rice you need 2 cups of water) then pour the water into the pot
  • Cook it on high heat until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low heat for approximately 1 hour
  • Check to see if the leaves are cooked – once they’re cooked, pour in 3 oz. of fresh lemon juice
  • If the rice is not quite cooked, add in more water a little bit at a time (2-3 oz. at a time)
  • Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and let the pot settle while covered for at least 15 minutes
  • When you’re ready to serve, put a large round platter face down on the pot and tip the pot over
  • Serve with fresh pita bread and plain yogurt

Mediterranean Meatloaf


This is another one of my mother’s recipes that was a staple in our household growing up.  It’s a Middle Eastern version of good old ‘meat and potatoes.’ 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh parsley (approximately 10 stems), finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 lb. (or more if desired) baby potatoes, peeled
  • 1 small can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the ground beef, onion, parsley salt and pepper and mix well with your hands
  • Pour in the juice from the canned diced tomatoes, and mix well
  • Boil the potatoes and slice them into 1/3″ slices
  • Place the meat into the center of a baking pan with high edges (you don’t want the juice to leak)
  • Press down with your hands until the meat is about 1″ thick
  • With your index finger, divide the flattened meat into four by making a shallow indention and then make random shallow indentations with your index finger in each section (this will help keep the juices in the meat while it’s cooking)
  • Top the meat with the sliced potatoes and sprinkle with salt
  • Evenly place the diced tomatoes on top of the potatoes
  • Bake at 375°F for approximately 45 minutes
*Try serving this dish with fresh pita bread – makes a tasty sandwich!



Hushway

This Middle Eastern dish literally translates to “stuffing.”  It’s what my mom stuffs our Thanksgiving turkey with – minus the peas.  It’s super easy to make and really gives you the feeling that you’re eating something exotic.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. – 1  1/2  lbs. ground beef
  • 1 cup uncooked white basmati rice
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a medium pan, season the ground beef with the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper and then brown it
  • Once the meat is cooked, add 2 cups of water to the pan and stir
  • Bring the water to a boil and add the frozen peas and mix
  • Bring the water to a boil again and add in the rice and stir
  • Lower the heat on the stove to low and cover the pot
  • Keep stirring the rice often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan
  • Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is tender

*Try topping this rice with cool plain yogurt – it’s not only a refreshing combination, but it also hits all of the food groups!