Oufff … Courgettes

zucchini

Oufff, I’m stuffed (hi hi, had to say it)

That’s the little food joke for today. Stuffed courgettes (zucchinis). With summer shyly knocking on the door, and vegetables plenty, I vowed I’ll look away from the traditional. Good bye potatoes, good bye aubergines, hello funny shaped courgettes. I know, I know. They are not funny shaped just round. However if you were to look around the markets/ supermarkets around the long courgettes are the norm. The round one? Just cute little vegetables everyone looks at, but only the brave (ahem!) buy them.

Give me any stuffed vegetable and I’ll tell you I’m in veggie heaven. I love stuffed vegetables. Probably because they remind me of home. They remind me of summer days, of long hot summer nights when light dinners were all we could master. Stuffed aubergines? Delicious. Stuffed bell peppers? Light. Stuffed tomatoes? Refreshing. Stuffed courgettes? Check.

Years of being spoiled with home cooked food. My turn now to cook summery stuffed vegetables. I have already stuffed the aubergine. Now it was the courgettes turn. Such a simple yet stunning dish. Sort of an ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ kind of result, which is ready in no more than 30min. The combinations are endless. Of course there is a meat version, but this dinner goes fabulously as a vegetarian option.

Stuffed courgettes (serves hungry 2 but ideal side option for 4)

4 round courgettes
rice (here you can use your favorite brand, or opt for an exotic black rice perhaps?)
mince meat (or leave this out if you plan to go vegetarian)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
any other vegetables you have left over or can think of (mushrooms, tomatoes etc)
grated cheese (we used, again, Comte)

Preheat your oven at 220C. First, the little ‘hats’ – cut off the top of the courgettes, and set them aside. Feeling artistic? Then of course you could take the time and patience to cut the tops off in zig-zag. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time, and everyone who knows me, knows patience is not my virtue. Voila!

Carefully scoop out the flesh from inside the courgettes. This of course can be done in true culinary fashion with a melon spoon/ scoop, which we don’t own (I wonder how we missed out on that one?). So I used your very reliable and fashionable … tea spoon. Season, and keep the flesh aside.

Boil the rice. In a large frying pan fry the onions. Add the minced meat, if using. When almost done add the rest of vegetables. Cook till soft. At the very end add the courgettes flesh.

Stuff the courgettes. Sprinkle each courgettes with some grated cheese. Get the courgettes ready for the heat (aka add the hats!) and in the oven they go. For no longer than 15min or till the courgettes feel soft but do not fall apart. And this is how you get stuffed on healthy … stuffed courgettes.

Do you have a favorite stuffed vegetable recipe? I would love to hear as I am always on the look out for new inspiration for all the summer veggies to come.

More wonderful legumes farcis and an eight ball courgette coincidence at La Tartine Gourmade.

Update 14 September 2007: My photo of the courgettes appeared in the Guardian Unlimited/ Food Blog for ‘Nigel Slater’s supper on a shoestring’  

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