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The lonely courgette

January 25, 2014

Stuffed courgetteOh poor, little, stuffed courgette. Why are you all alone?

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:

Stuffed veg

And more:

Stuffed veg recipe from

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?

Stuffed courgettes*

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?

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  1. January 25, 2014 4:03 pm

    Interesting until you introduced meat into the ingredients! But great pics of your market haul…

    Where did you find the Staub casserole? I’ve seen them in trade suppliers, but not elsewhere.

    • January 26, 2014 7:42 am

      I bought the big blue Staub at a trade supplier many years ago and love it as it is big enough to hold a leg of lamb. Tavola stock a good range and I bought the little cocotte from there. I make a version with lentils for veggie teen which are very good too.

  2. January 25, 2014 4:32 pm

    Poor little courgette. Tomatoes and peppers aren’t much better in the looks post-stuffing and cooking department either. But, as you conclude, stuffed is possibly the best way to eat vegetables. Little nature-made mini pots of deliciousness. But the weeny little Staube carapace does help in the fanciable stakes. What a looker!

    • January 26, 2014 7:43 am

      Ah, I wish I’d thought of that line – “little nature-made mini pots of deliciousness”. Perfect.

  3. January 25, 2014 5:55 pm

    oh I totally love the lonesome courgette, it looks very sweet and I want it all to myself!

    • January 26, 2014 7:44 am

      And I did….eat it all by myself that is!

  4. January 25, 2014 6:51 pm

    I usually stuff courgette’s too, but in the last few weeks I have experimented with stuffing tomato’s a-la-provencale (recipe on my blog) and had a great turn out! Love the pictures as usually, so stunning! 🙂

    • January 26, 2014 7:46 am

      You’ve managed to make your tomatoes look rather beautiful. Inspired to post some more cooked ones here in the future!

  5. January 25, 2014 7:18 pm

    Have to agree that stuffing courgette is one of the best ways to so it justice, can be quite bland otherwise. I tend to grate it into dishes. I like the choice of spices that you’ve used and am quite tempted to try a veggie version x

    • January 25, 2014 7:55 pm

      A rich tomato sauce with spices transforms it from any hint of blandness. Love to see what you make.

  6. January 25, 2014 8:06 pm

    Stuffed vegetables have saved a dinner party, is that the same as saving my life? 😉
    The round courgette looks great!

    • January 26, 2014 7:40 am

      Definitely! The round ones look as though they are asking to be stuffed.

  7. thomasgellender23 permalink
    January 25, 2014 9:11 pm

    Will have to save this recipe and try it once I start harvesting my courgettes and the rest of my veg! Beautiful pictures

    • January 26, 2014 7:47 am

      Stuffing your own home-grown veg must be the ultimate pleasure in the veg stuffing stakes.

  8. January 26, 2014 5:15 am

    I must try your recipe, especially when the trombies pick up speed! I love stuffed veg, but when I make them at home, they always seem a bit soggy. Yours look perfect. Oh, and can you please send me some stuffed vine leaves, they’re my all time fave.. 🙂

    • January 26, 2014 7:38 am

      Elder teen only wants vine leaves although these courgettes are nice enough for her complaints to dry up. I used to be able to get fresh leaves in the supermarket in Saudi but can only get the ones in jars here. Do you grow a vine among your fertile patch?

  9. Eha permalink
    January 26, 2014 5:28 am

    Love, love, love stuffed vegetables, especially zucchini . . . like your spicing and shall faithfully copy. Also like them Middle-Eastern style stuffed with spicy lentils . . . Methinks the love affair began in Italy – one would walk into a restaurant at lunchtime and be greeted by these huge displays of colourful stuffed vegetables ~ the latter were just a ‘side’ for me in those days, but curiosity made me try and I guess I am still trying 😀 !!!

    • January 26, 2014 7:36 am

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one who thinks they are so heavenly 🙂

  10. Sarah permalink
    January 26, 2014 8:50 am

    I love the post, especially the solitary, golden deliciousness calling my name. Now if I can convince the rest of the men to eat this I’d be laughing!

    • January 26, 2014 11:42 am

      Likewise my veggie teen to eat courgettes! Thanks for comment – hope all went well with move.

  11. January 26, 2014 12:32 pm

    To be honest I’m not a huge fan of stuffing veg ‘western style’ but Okra stuffed with spicy coconut and also aubergines stuffed with nuts and spices are two of my favourite dishes.

  12. January 26, 2014 12:36 pm

    Lovely post – poor little courgette 😉

  13. January 26, 2014 1:11 pm

    In the Indian cuisine there is a stuffed vegetable dish and the vegetables typically used are okra and aubergines (small ones). They are not stuffed as per definition. it is more like they are spiced on their insides by making deep gashes/cuts.
    I love a stuffed Capsicum/ Green/red Pepper and usually stuff it with vegetables and scrambled egg.

    I do like the Arabic way to stuffing courgettes with rice and meat. I think your recipe is similar to the Arabic way of stuffing vegetables. Any which ways, its whet my appetite. Will have to look for some stuffed vegetables for lunch today.

  14. January 26, 2014 3:08 pm

    Thought I was reading a love letter with beautiful photographs. Loved it. I am always doing stuffed vegetables – my girls love it 🙂

  15. January 26, 2014 3:42 pm

    Gorgeous clicks of the vegetables Sally…I usually make stuffed peppers and tomatoes…would be great to follow this recipe for stuffed courgettes…Now all though we all love meat and fish in the family…my teen of late has been asking for more vegs…I’m quite happy about that…especially with the range of wonderful organic and local ones available in Dubai

  16. January 26, 2014 6:07 pm

    I love the idea of using two different types of rice.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  17. January 26, 2014 9:08 pm

    A gorgeous array of beautiful vegetables. Those stuffed courgettes must taste really good. I love that spicy stuffing.



    • January 28, 2014 9:11 am

      We liked them Rosa – second only to KP’s Gran’s recipe ….which I’ll post soon.

  18. andreamynard permalink
    January 27, 2014 1:12 am

    Looks wonderful Sally, must come back to this in the summer when the garden is inundating me with courgettes again. Your lovely pics full of Mediterranean veg are making me dream for that time. Much as I love root veg, there’s something about food grown in sunshine that has me yearning for Italian markets too.

    • January 28, 2014 9:10 am

      Whereas I yearn for a good parsnip! Grass.Greener. etc.

  19. January 27, 2014 12:28 pm

    As Andreamynard writes above, your pictures are really wonderful … I am always drawn to colours and since we can only imagine the scent of these lovely stuffed veggies, the photos really do the trick! The typical Roman stuffed courgettes include parmesan, minced meat, and some ham or mortadella and a hint of bread. I’ve made them with canned tuna too and served them with a capscicum sauce. Stuffed cougettes very much summery comfort food. I am really looking forward to trying your recipe using all those spices … much more exciting.

    • January 28, 2014 9:10 am

      Love the sound of parmesan in the stuffing….and ham. Thanks for kind words and lovely comment.

  20. January 27, 2014 8:53 pm

    I LOVE stuffing squash. Acorn squash is one of my favorites to cook with. This recipe looks wonderful, Sally!

    • January 28, 2014 9:09 am

      I’ve never got my hands on an acorn squash – would love to try one.

  21. January 28, 2014 9:14 am

    There’s a brilliant dish from Sally Clarke that I had in her restaurant some years back. Don’t have quantities but you can work them out. Cut a butternut squash in half lengthways and deseed. Cut slits in the surface and insert slivers of garlic and fresh thyme. Fill the bowl with double cream, after making slits into the flesh, so the cream will penetrate the squash. Brush flesh with oil and cook in moderate oven, adding Parmesan about half way through. Yum!

    • January 28, 2014 10:28 am

      I’ve never thought of adding cream to squash. Regularly use Jamie O – inspired method of rubbing with oil and ground coriander and chilli. Drizzled with salsa verde afterwards – it’s also yum. Will try the creamy, cheesy version though. Sounds comforting.

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