This is a very simple Turkish dish that is easy to prepare. I loved this dish as a child and I still love it. It reheats well but I think it is best when served the moment the dish is ready; it’s usually served with a rice pilaf and yogurt. To prepare the dish, the middle parts of the zucchini are removed with an apple corer and the zucchini are then stuffed with a ground meat mixture. While most dolma or stuffed vegetable recipes use uncooked rice, I prefer using cooked rice in the filling because when the zucchini are fresh and tender, they don’t take long to cook and the uncooked rice stays a little too al dente for my taste. Don’t throw away the parts of the zucchini you remove with the apple corer though, they can be used to make zucchini fritters or in pureed vegetable soups.
- 8-10 medium zucchini
- ¾ pound (12 oz.) ground beef (preferably extra lean)
- 1 medium onion, grated
- ½ cup cooked rice
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 3 tbsp finely chopped dill
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 cup hot water
- ¼ cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp oil
To prepare the meat mixture, combine all the ingredients in a bowl, refrigerate while you prepare the zucchini.
Wash and trim the zucchini, cut in half or thirds depending on the size of the zucchini, each piece should be about 2 inches long. Using an apple corer, tunnel out the centre part of the zucchini and set them aside to make zucchini fritters.
Fill the zucchini with the meat mixture and place in a large pot. Mix the hot water with crushed tomato and oil, pour over the stuffed zucchini, cover the pot with a lid and cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the meat is cooked and the zucchini is tender, you may need to adjust the liquid in the pot by adding more hot water.
Once cooked, transfer the stuffed zucchini to a serving plate, taste the sauce, adjust the seasoning if necessary and pour over the stuffed zucchini. Serve hot with rice or the side dish of your choice.