Stuffed Zucchini: the Lebanese way

Some of the Mediterranean dishes require stuffing vegetables with meat, rice and sometimes both. We love stuffing eggplants, zucchinis, bell peppers, potatoes and even tomatoes! I’ll be sticking with “stuffing the zucchinis” for the moment because they are the only vegetables I know how to stuff πŸ™‚

It is a time demanding recipe, so if you have time on your hands, you must try it out because it sure is worth it!

Here’s what you need:

  • small zucchinis ( 8 to serve 3 people )
  • A corer ( see picture below, you can also use an apple corer )
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 kg minced meat
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp Pomegranate molasses , also called Dibs el Rimman ( it is not a necessary ingredient, but it gives it extra flavor )
  • salt, pepper and cinnamon powder

The corer

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Cut the ends off the zucchinis and core them, it’s ok if you get cracks and holes, it just needs practice πŸ™‚
  2. Start preparing the filling, which is the meat. Put 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a big frying pan and start frying the finely chopped onions until caramelized, then add the minced meat. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon ( optional ).
  3. Once meat is cooked, set aside. In another smaller pan, heat the olive oil and fry pine nuts until golden brown. Then add on top of cooked meat and mix together.
  4. Preheat the rest of the vegetable oil and fry the cored zucchinis until golden brown and wrinkly.
  5. Using your finger as a driver, stuff the zucchini with meat,pushing the meat down with your pinkie to make sure the zucchini is full. Repeat until all zucchinis are stuffed.
  6. Preparing the red sauce: add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a pot and fry the garlic. Add the tomato paste and water, keep stirring until boiled. Season with salt and pepper. You can add more tomato paste if the sauce is too light.
  7. Add the Pomegranate molasses to the red sauce, the stuffed zucchinis and the remaining meat filling. Cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with rice and enjoy πŸ™‚

P.S: you can find Pomegranate molasses at a middle eastern grocery store.

Cored zucchinis

The filling

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Baked fries: the healthier choice.

I love making these oven baked fries as I am trying to cut down on deep fried food lately, plus, I hate seeing my kitchen splatter with oil. Apart from that, they are extremely easy to make! Don’t expect these baked fries to be a 100% substitute for the real French fries,these taste better! But it’s definitely a healthier choice for those potato lovers who want to avoid deep-frying fries.

This is the simplest and easiest recipe to make next to burgers, steak or even as a snack for dinner!

Here’s what you need:

  • potatoes ( DUH!! )
  • Oregano
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • garlic cloves

And here’s what you need to do :

  1. Preheat oven to 200Β°C
  2. Wash and cut potatoes into any shape you like. Soak into water and salt for 5 minutes to prevent them from turning dark.
  3. Once you dry the potatoes, season with all spices, then lay them on a baking tray lined with foil and put in the oven for 15 minutes
  4. Take the tray out after 15 minutes, add slices of garlic on top of the fries, then back again in the over for another 15 minutes.

Gratin Γ  la vegetarian

I am not a vegetarian, I don’t think I’ll ever be. But there is something about this gratin that makes me want to have it all the time! It is probably because i’d eat anything with white sauce and cheese πŸ™‚ I usually make this for dinner, but it can be made as a side dish for lunch, next to salad or grilled “something”. For this recipe, I used broccoli and carrots, but it can be made with any vegetable you have in the fridge: cauliflower, squash, eggplant and the list goes on…

So, here’s what you need:

For the white sauce:

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 2tbsp of flour
  • 1/2 cup of grated gruyere cheese (or parmesan cheese)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp of salt

For top of the gratin:

  • melted butter ( for taste )
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • more grated cheese ( for extra taste )

Here’s what you need to do :

  1. Preheat oven to 200
  2. Boil vegetables, in my case, broccoli and carrots. Broccoli needs 3 mins, carrots need a little longer.
  3. Heat milk with butter, then add flour, one spoon at a time.Add cheese and keep stirring. Mix in the spices
  4. In a Pyrex or oven pan, add a layer of the white sauce, pour in all vegetables, another layer of white sauce.
  5. Sprinkle bread crumbs, cheese and butter
  6. Grill in oven for 15 mins and enjooooooooy πŸ™‚