Saturday, October 06, 2012

Lamb-Stuffed Zucchini--Greek Style

                We may be heading to fall, but there is still a wealth of fresh veggies to be found at the farmers’ markets around Memphis. This past week, I found the cutest round zucchini and knew I had to stuff them with something.
                A spiced rice stuffing is sort of standard, and certainly makes a delicious side dish for roasted or grilled meats, but I had friends coming for dinner and wanted to make them into a main course.
                I picked up some ground lamb, not quite sure what direction I was going but wound up using Greek-inspired seasonings. They were perfect.  I baked them on a bed of lightly seasoned diced fresh tomato, but you could easily use canned diced tomatoes instead. And of course, those adorable round zucchini don’t show up every day, but this would be equally successful with good sized long zucchini, so I've given the instructions assuming that's what you'll use.
                 I know there are lots of folks who think they don't like lamb.  I don't understand it but I know it's true.  So if you are one of those folks, do this with lean ground beef and you're still going to love it.
                I served the stuffed zucchini with rice pilaf and a green salad, and it made a lovely casual dinner.

Greek-Inspired Lamb Stuffed Zucchini

6 medium zucchini
1 lb. lean ground lamb
2 green onions, with about 2” of the green part, finely chopped
2 or 3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 cups ripe fresh tomato, cored and diced (see note)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ cup dry red wine
Salt and pepper

                Preheat oven to 375o.
Scrub the zucchini. Cut a slice about ¼” thick along the length. Using a melon baller or small spoon, hollow out the center, leaving a shell ¼” thick.  Chop the sliced-off tops and the center and reserve. 
                In a bowl, mix together the reserved chopped zucchini, lamb, green onion, garlic, herbs, cilantro, parsley, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.  Use this mixture to stuff the zucchini.
                In a shallow casserole just large enough to hold the zucchini in one layer, spread the tomato chunks evenly. Sprinkle with the garlic, drizzle on the wine and season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with the zucchini and cover loosely with foil.
                Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is browned and the lamb is done through, 10 to 15 minutes more.  To serve, spoon some of the tomato on each plate and top with the zucchini.  Makes 6 servings.

NOTE: Tomatoes are still growing in Memphis, but won't be for long. Instead of fresh tomato, two 15-ounce cans of diced tomato with garlic, including the juices, can be used.

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