I used 4 large zucchini for this dish, each one was long enough that I could cut it in half and then slice each half lengthwise to make 4 "boats" from each zucchini, for a total of 16 boats. 3 or 4 boats makes a good main course portion (or 5 for my Dave). Dave did declare that this dish should be placed in the Zucchini Top Ten. I made the Ras Al Hanout spice mix from a recipe in Paula Wolfert's book The Food of Morocco.
2 1/4 lb. zucchini, stems and blossom ends trimmed
1/2 cup short grain rice (risotto rice)
2-3 tbsp. butter
1/4 large sweet onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ras al hanout spice mix
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 lb. or so ground lamb
2 cups canned tomatoes or fresh tomato pulp
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp. olive oil
Cut the zucchinis in half lengthwise. Scoop out the centers of the zucchinis with a melon baller leaving about a 1/4-inch thick shell. Reserve the zucchini guts. Salt the cut sides of the zucchini boats and let them sit about an hour to draw out some moisture. Meanwhile assemble the filling.
Soak the rice in cold water to cover by an inch for 20 minutes. Drain and reserve.
While the rice is soaking, melt the butter in a medium sized saute pan over medium heat. Saute the onions in the butter until they are translucent. While the onions are cooking, chop the zucchini guts, then add them to the pan and continue to cook over medium to medium low heat until the zucchini is tender and most of the excess moisture is cooked off, don't allow the mixture to brown. Add the garlic and ras al hanout to the pan and cook a few more minutes. Transfer the zucchini mixture to a medium sized bowl, stir in the drained rice, season with a teaspoon of kosher salt, and allow the mixture to cool.
Crumble the ground lamb into the cooled zucchini mixture and mix it in thoroughly with your hands. Pat the zucchini boats dry with paper toweling. Spoon the stuffing mixture into the zucchini boats, packing it in and mounding it slightly. At this point the stuffed zucchinis can be placed on a tray, covered and refrigerated.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil a large baking dish, one large enough to hold the zucchinis in one layer, with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Arrange the zucchinis in the dish, they can be closely spaced, but not packed in tight. Crush the tomatoes and spoon them evenly over the zucchinis. Season with freshly ground black pepper, drizzle with the pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Place a large sheet of parchment paper over the zucchinis, it should be pressed down on top of the zucchinis with the excess paper scrunched down around the edges.
Bake the zucchinis for about half an hour (I used the convection fan for this phase), until bubbling hot. Then uncover the dish and continue to bake for another 20 to 30 minutes (no convection) until the filling has expanded and the rice is visibly cooked. Serve hot with a drizzle of the pan juices.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
About This Blog
This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.
Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...
Thank you and enjoy!