Mehshee Koosa Awteh – Stuffed Zucchini (vegetarian)
By Petronella Fakhry
- 20 Lebanese zucchini (light green) approximately 11 cm in length
- ½ cup rice ( white, brown or basmati – use your favourite)
- 1 large brown onion – finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup pre-cooked chick peas (or 400g tin of chickpeas washed and drained)
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- ¾ cup chopped mint
- 3 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- A sprinkle of chilli powder
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste – for a thicker tomato sauce you can add more tomato paste.
- 2 ripe tomatoes for base of saucepan.
- Wash the zucchinis and cut off the stem top. Core the zucchinis using a special coring tool leaving only a thin layer of pulp around it. Place the pulp aside for later use. Rinse out the zucchinis under tap water.
- Prepare a large saucepan. Grease the base with oil. Slice ripe tomatoes to cover the base along with a handful of the thicker pieces of zucchini pulp.
- Preparing the stuffing by placing the washed and drained rice in a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and other spices on top and mix well. Add the chopped onion, tomatoes, parsley, mint, chick peas, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Mix well.
- Hold the zucchini with one hand with the other grab some of the stuffing and push into the zucchini with your fingers. Leave 1 ½ cm at top of zucchini unfilled to allow the stuffing to expand.
- Once all zucchini have been filled pack them neatly in the prepared saucepan, making 2 or more layers. In a bowl place the tomato paste and 2 cups of hot water with a teaspoon of salt and mix well. Pour over the saucepan. Add more water until the water is level with the top layer of zucchinis. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once it begins to boil, cover the saucepan and turn down the heat to simmer for about 40 minutes.
- Do the taste test. Allow it to simmer a little longer if more cooking is required. Turn off the heat. Allow to rest in saucepan for 15 minutes before serving.