The lonely courgette
Here you are with all the other courgettes, fresh from the farmers’ market, being stuffed:
And here are more veg, all stuffed and ready to cook:
So why just a picture of just you; a solitary, cooked, stuffed veg?
Is it because you’re not so pretty once you’ve simmered away with tomatoes, spices and sometimes lamb chops, becoming tender, absorbing the juices? Perhaps.
Or is it because stuffed vegetables are irresistible and possibly the most delicious way of eating vegetables on this planet?
Ingredients for the filling
9 medium courgettes, long or round
400g minced lamb or beef
180g short-grain rice (I used half Arborio and half Basmati because that’s what I had)
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1 large bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 level teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for the sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons (or one whole carton) tomato purée
2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes (or 1 kilo fresh tomatoes chopped)
25g unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Approx 600ml water
1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling together in a bowl (it’s easiest to use your hands to make sure it’s well combined).
2. Wash and dry the courgettes. Slice the stem end off to make a lid and scoop out the middle leaving a thin layer as a wall. If using round courgettes use a melon baller, if long use an apple corer. Use the courgette flesh for another recipe (e.g. fritters or courgette bread or cake).
3. Stuff the courgettes with the filling. Don’t pack too firmly and leave at least 5 mm clear of the top as it will expand as the rice cooks.
4. In a wide pan with a tight-fitting lid (enamelled cast iron is perfect) heat the olive oil over a medium heat and sauté the garlic cloves until they start to change colour but do not go brown. Stir in the tomato purée and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, butter and sea salt. Stir until combined and the sauce starts to bubble.
5. Remove from the heat and gently place your stuffed courgettes into the sauce replacing their ‘lids’ (do not press down on them, they just need to balance). Put back onto the heat and bring back to a simmer. Pour in enough water to nearly cover the courgettes (I rinse out the tomato cans with the water before I pour it in). Bring up to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently with the lid on for about 45 minutes. Check about halfway through that it is not drying out and add a little more boiling water if necessary. Test that the courgette is cooked with a small knife – it should be soft enough to pierce easily but not mushy.
6. Serve hot or warm with bread if you like (this is a one-pot meal).
*I use a method based on how my Mother-in-law cooks stuffed veg but referred to Claudia Roden and Nadia Sawalha‘s recipes as a guide for quantities – who could resist a cookbook called Stuffed vine leaves saved my life…certainly not me).
Do you have a favourite veg to stuff? Has stuffed veg ever saved your life?