Middle Eastern Style Stuffed Zucchini in Potato & Eggplant Stew

Seiran Sinjari - Legally Plantbased Author Photo - Title: Recipe Developer and BOV Contributor

Join Seiran Sinjari as she explores the versatility of zucchini in this installment of her biweekly recipe column All About the Veg! In today’s article, she shows us how to bring out the best in this delicious vegetable by pairing the stuffed zucchini with Middle Eastern spices and cooking it in a potato and eggplant stew. She then serves it with a refreshing yogurt sauce and aromatic garlic butter. All vegan, of course. 

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All About The Veg: Middle Eastern Style Stuffed Zucchini in Potato & Eggplant Stew

Introducing: White Zucchini

It’s zucchini season so let’s make something extra delicious with my favorite kind of zucchini, white zucchini. The white zucchini is actually a pale green zucchini and is the most common zucchini used across the Middle East, it’s also very common all around the Mediterranean. They are small and tender and they have a more sweet and mild flavor profile compared to the dark green bigger zucchinis. The skin of the white zucchini is also more tender and delicate.

White zucchinis can be used just in the same way as the green ones but their mild flavor and tender skin also makes them a better option if you want to prepare a dish with raw zucchini.

Stuffed Zucchini in Traditional Cuisines

In traditional cuisine all around the Middle East these zucchini are mostly used for making stews, casseroles and of course the star dish; stuffed zucchini. Every season has their own perfect vegetable to stuff and right now zucchini and fresh vine leaves would be the best options.

In Kurdish cuisine we like to mix the stuffed zucchini with at least one or two other stuffed vegetables such as onions and/or fresh vine leaves. In for example Lebanese and Syrian cuisines the stuffed zucchinis are often prepared on their own.

How to Pair Stuffed Zucchini to Make it a Filling Meal

Here I’ve only used zucchini as it’s our star this week but I’m also cooking it in a potato and eggplant stew with fresh summer tomatoes, making this a complete meal. The filling is basically my go-to filling recipe when it comes to stuffing all vegetables Kurdish/Middle Eastern style. It’s full of aromatic spices, fresh herbs and tangy but balanced.

Garlic Butter (Or, How to Take This Recipe to the Next Level)

The absolute best and final part of this recipe is the garlic butter drizzled on top before serving, a genius and delicious move passed down by my grandma. It works as a great contrast to the tangy and aromatic stew and stuffed zucchinis. To cool things down a litte, I’m always serving some yogurt sauce with dried mint on the side but that’s optional.

Middle Eastern Style Stuffed Zucchini in Potato & Eggplant Stew

What You’ll Need:

  • small white zucchini
  • short grain rice
  • walnuts
  • dill
  • parsley
  • green onions
  • yellow onions
  • tomatoes
  • garlic cloves
  • seven spice blend
  • Aleppo pepper (or other mild chili flakes)
  • dried mint
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • tomato paste
  • olive oil
  • lemon
  • pomegranate molasses
  • new potatoes or waxy potatoes
  • eggplant
  • sumac
  • veggie stock powder
  • boiling water
  • vegan butter
  • cucumber (celery, lettuce or purslane can also be used instead of cucumber)
  • unsweetened thick/strained vegan yogurt or vegan Greek style yogurt

Stuffed Zucchini

How to Make this Middle Eastern Style Stuffed Zucchini in Potato & Eggplant Stew

Step One: Mix and season the first batch of ingredients

Mix together all ingredients for the filling in a large bowl. You can taste some of the filling without chewing the raw rice. Adjust salt, seasoning and lemon to taste.

Step Two: Trim and core the zucchini

Trim the zucchini ends (save the ends for later) and core the zucchini with a zucchini/vegetable corer or a small knife. Core out as much as possible without piercing the walls and save it for later. Delicious to fry in some olive oil with onions and spices, serve with bread for brunch or breakfast.

Step Three: Stuff the zucchini

Use a small teaspoon to stuff the zucchini with the filling and push the filling down with your fingers. Fill them up but don’t pack the filling too tightly. Use the zucchini trimmings to seal, if they don’t fit you can trim them a little.

Step Four: Prepare the stew

To prepare the stew, add olive oil to a medium sized pot over medium heat. Add onions and fry until translucent, add potatoes, eggplant and tomato paste and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Step Five: Add the zucchini to the stew and simmer

Carefully add the zucchini to the stew, arrange them in a circle with the ends pointing towards the center. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 1 – 1.5 hours.

Step Six: Thicken the stew or make it more soupy

If you want the stew to thicken, remove the zucchini from the stew, bring up the heat and cook uncovered for a few minutes. If you want it to be more soupy you can add some boiling water or vegetable stock, adjust seasoning in that case.

Step Seven: Prepare the yogurt sauce (optional)

To prepare the yogurt sauce (optional), squeeze out some of the liquid of the cucumber if you want a thick sauce, if you want it more runny, keep it. Place yogurt, cucumber (or the veggie you’re using), garlic, dried mint and salt in a bowl. Mix well, add more salt/garlic/dried mint to taste. Store covered in fridge until serving.

Step Eight: Prepare the garlic butter

Prepare the garlic butter before plating. Smash the garlic cloves with a pestle or knife blade against a chopping board. Add olive oil and butter to a pan over medium heat, when butter has melted, add the garlic. Cook while stirring over medium-low heat until fragrant and the garlic is starting to brown a little around the edges and the butter is foamy.

Step Nine: Plate, serve, and enjoy!

Plate the stew, place the zucchini on top and pour the garlic butter on top of them. Serve with the yogurt sauce (optional).

Print
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Stuffed Zucchini

Middle Eastern Style Stuffed Zucchini in Potato & Eggplant Stew


Description

Bring out the best in this delicious vegetable, the white zucchini, by pairing it with Middle Eastern spices and cooking it in a potato and eggplant stew. Serve it with a refreshing yogurt sauce and aromatic garlic butter. All vegan, of course. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 small white zucchini

For the filling:

  • 85 g short grain rice, rinsed & drained
  • 25 g walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch dill, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 23 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp seven spice blend
  • ½1 tsp Aleppo pepper (or other mild chili flakes)
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • ½1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 35 ml olive oil
  • 1 lemon juiced (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

For the stew:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 350 g new potatoes or waxy potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, blended
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp seven spice blend
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tsp ground sumac
  • 1 tbsp veggie stock powder
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 500 ml boiling water

For the garlic butter:

  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp vegan butter
  • salt to taste if using unsalted butter

For the yogurt sauce (optional):

  • 1 cucumber, grated or finely chopped (finely chopped celery, lettuce or purslane can also be used instead of cucumber)
  • 500 g unsweetened thick/strained vegan yogurt or vegan Greek style yogurt
  • 23 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried mint (more or less to taste), should preferably not be replaced with fresh mint as it tastes very different
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together all ingredients for the filling in a large bowl. You can taste some of the filling without chewing the raw rice. Adjust salt, seasoning and lemon to taste.
  2. Trim the zucchini ends (save the ends for later) and core the zucchini with a zucchini/vegetable corer or a small knife. Core out as much as possible without piercing the walls and save it for later. Delicious to fry in some olive oil with onions and spices, serve with bread for brunch or breakfast.
  3. Use a small teaspoon to stuff the zucchini with the filling and push the filling down with your fingers. Fill them up but don’t pack the filling too tightly. Use the zucchini trimmings to seal, if they don’t fit you can trim them a little.
  4. To prepare the stew, add olive oil to a medium sized pot over medium heat. Add onions and fry until translucent, add potatoes, eggplant and tomato paste and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  5. Carefully add the zucchinis to the stew, arrange them in a circle with the ends pointing towards the center. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 1 – 1.5 hours.
  6. If you want the stew to thicken, remove the zucchini from the stew, bring up the heat and cook uncovered for a few minutes. If you want it to be more soupy you can add some boiling water or vegetable stock, adjust seasoning in that case.
  7. To prepare yogurt sauce (optional), squeeze out some of the liquid of the cucumber if you want a thick sauce, if you want it more runny, keep it.
  8. Place yogurt, cucumber (or the veggie you’re using), garlic, dried mint and salt in a bowl. Mix well, add more salt/garlic/dried mint to taste.
  9. Store covered in fridge until serving.
  10. Prepare garlic butter before plating. Smash the garlic cloves with a pestle or knife blade against a chopping board. Add olive oil and butter to a pan over medium heat, when butter has melted, add the garlic. Cook while stirring over medium-low heat until fragrant and the garlic is starting to brown a little around the edges and the butter is foamy.
  11. Plate the stew, place the zucchini on top and pour the garlic butter on top of them. Serve with the yogurt sauce (optional).

Notes

Find more of Seiran’s recipes at @legallyplantbased.

Recipe, text, and photography by Seiran Sinjari.

Seiran Sinjari's author photo on the left. On the right, her name in bold letters, underneath, her bio: Seiran is a Stockholm-based freelance food photographer and recipe developer who left her international legal career to pursue her quest for a life with more freedom and creativity. Her recipes and photographs have been featured in Thrive Magazine, Japanese Genic Magazine and recently she appeared on The Drew Barrymore Show. Her cooking is often inspired by flavors from the Middle East / her Kurdish roots or her encounters with different cuisines around the globe. You can follow her on social media at @legallyplantbased.

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Middle Eastern Style Stuffed Zucchini in Potato & Eggplant Stew

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