Stuffed zucchini cooked in yoghurt

Stuffed zucchini cooked in yoghurt

By
From
New Feast
Serves
4
Photographer
Alan Benson

This is a vegetable version of Greg’s all-time favourite home-cooked meal, kousa mahshi. Kousa mahshi is, essentially, a hearty one-pot dish, where zucchinis (or baby marrows) are filled with a rice-and-meat mixture and braised in a hearty tomato sauce. This rather more refined version mixes the rice stuffing with dates, spices, flaked almonds and a splash of rosewater. The zucchinis are steamed (to cook the rice) before being finished off in a silkily smooth hot yoghurt sauce.

If you can, use white zucchini that are squat and bulbous, as they are easy to hollow out. We use a combination of a long, thin fish-filleting knife and a small melon baller!

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
12 white zucchini or baby marrows

Stuffing

Quantity Ingredient
100ml olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
250g medium-grain rice
4 medjool dates, pitted and cut into 1 cm dice
400ml vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
40g flaked almonds
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons rose petals
splash rosewater

Hot yoghurt sauce

Quantity Ingredient
600g natural yoghurt
3 teaspoons cornflour
60ml water
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
salt
freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Method

  1. To make the stuffing, heat one-third of the olive oil in a mediumsized saucepan and fry the onion gently for about 5 minutes, just until it softens. Add the rice to the pan and stir well to coat all the grains in the oil and onion. Add the dates and pour on enough of the stock to cover the rice by one fingers’ width. Add the spices, salt and the bay leaves, then cover the pan with a lid and simmer on a very low heat for 5 minutes, or until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is just cooked.
  2. While the rice is cooking, fry the almonds in the remaining olive oil until they colour a rich golden brown. They burn very easily, so stir them constantly.
  3. When the rice is cooked, tip it into a mixing bowl, remove the bay leaves, and fork it through with 1 tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil. Stir in the nuts and 2 tablespoons of the rose petals and allow to cool completely before you stuff the zucchinis.
  4. When completely cold, sprinkle on a splash of rosewater (don’t overdo it: a couple of teaspoons should be ample).
  5. Trim the zucchinis at the rounded end. With a melon baller or a long, thin knife, carefully hollow out the inside of each one. The idea is to have as thin a shell as possible, but without piercing the skin. Loosely stuff each zucchini to about three-quarters full, which leaves space for expansion during cooking.
  6. Stack the zucchinis in a steamer set over a pan of simmering water and cook, covered, for 35–40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
  7. While the zucchinis are steaming, prepare the sauce. Tip the yoghurt into a large bowl and stir briskly until smooth. Mix the cornflour with the water and add to the yoghurt with the egg yolks. Stir well then tip into a large saucepan. Lower the heat and cook, stirring in one direction only, for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Add the zucchinis to the pan and simmer gently for a further 5 minutes.
  8. Serve with a sprinkle of dried mint and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
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