These hollowed-out zucchini are filled with rice, nuts, and exotic spices for a yummy side or main dish! Every Middle Eastern country has its version of stuffed vegetables all with their own unique personalities and different names like gemista, mahshi, mehshe koosa, yaprach, and most commonly, dolma.
I also have multiple versions and recipes for stuffed vegetables. I love making quick and easy stuffed vegetables for a colorful and flavorful main. Some versions are vegetarian and some have ground meats such as lamb or beef. Check my website for recipes for everything from stuffed eggplant and stuffed tomatoes with quinoa to my ultimate favorite, stuffed peppers, every way you can think of.
I make the vegetable stuffings with cooked short grain brown rice, quinoa, farro, bulgur wheat, or other grains. Add sautéed seasonings such as shallots, red or yellow onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Use spices liberally such as allspice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and oregano, and basil to season your stuffing mixture. You can use meat or beans such as lentils to add to the stuffing mixture. I usually bind the stuffing with a little tomato paste and sometimes a red pepper paste that I purchase at the middle eastern market. I also like to add nuts such as walnuts to my dolmas and peppers and pine nuts to any of my stuffed vegetables.
Usually, the vegetables are scooped out as in these zucchini boats. Many cuisines call for the vegetables to be cored. This makes a lovely presentation if you have the tools and the patience!
After the vegetables are stuffed, place them in a deep baking dish and add a little water to the pan. Cover the pan tightly with tin foil so that the vegetables steam and become tender so you can eat the entire thing.
I love to eat the whole zucchini in this zucchini boat. I am not terribly fond of eating the peppers for stuffed peppers but most people do enjoy the cooked peppers that become tender and juicy once they are cooked.