stuffed zucchini

Stuffed Zucchini in a Tomato Broth

Zucchini is native to Mexico and Guatemala. It was introduced into Europe in the early 1500s and their popularity spread to North Africa and the Near East. Stuffing vegetables with rice and meat was introduced during the Ottoman Empire.

The tomato, which is native to Mexico, first arrived in Italy at the end of the 16th century but its seeds were not introduced to Greece until 1818, when the country was still part of the Ottoman Empire. The first tomatoes to grow in Greece were on the island of Syros and in Santorini, where they still thrive today. The tomato quickly became one of the main ingredients of Greek cuisine.

10 small zucchini
salt
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
water or dry white wine
Greek yogurt for serving

For the filling:
1 cup long grain rice
½ pound ground beef
1 tomato, diced
½ onion, diced
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup mint, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup dill, chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic

In a large bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Cook a small amount in olive oil to check for seasoning.

Cut the ends of the zucchini and scoop out the pulp using a small spoon or the tip of a vegetable peeler. The walls of zucchinis should be about ¼ inch. Sprinkle a pinch of salt inside each of them. (If the zucchini are large, cut in half.)

Fill each zucchini with the stuffing, leaving about 1 centimeter free at the top (or at each end if you cut off both ends) to allow the filling to expand. It’s easiest to fill the zucchini by hand, tapping them on your work surface every now and then to settle the stuffing down.

Place each stuffed zucchini in an even layer a large skillet. Pour the tomato sauce and enough water or wine to cover the by half. Bring to a boil then cover and lower the heat to simmer over for about 40 minutes hour, allowing the sauce to reduce and the rice to cook through. Serve the stuffed zucchini with some tomato sauce and a dollop of yogurt.

Serves 6

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