I know it’s finally Spring when my backyard shade garden becomes filled with mint plants. I decided to take advantage of my mint abundance and make a recipe I’ve been dreaming up ever since a photo in Paul Gayler’s A Passion for Vegetables caught my eye: 4 young zucchini hollowed into tubes and filled with…something. Never mind what was inside Paul’s zucchini–it wasn’t vegan, anyway. I just liked the look of them, but it took the arrival of the Spring herbs to turn on the lightbulb over my head.
Zucchini Stuffed with Pinenuts and Herbed Basmati Rice
- 6 small zucchinis
- 1/2 large onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup cooked brown basmati rice
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
- 1 tsp. grated Meyer lemon peel
- 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
- grating fresh pepper
- olive oil or olive oil spray, optional
- Trim the ends off the zucchini. Using an apple corer, remove the flesh from the zucchinis, being careful not to cut through the outer wall. Chop the zucchini flesh and measure out 1/2 cup; set the remaining zucchini flesh aside for another use (I added it to the Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup I served with this).
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the 1/2 cup chopped zucchini, onions, and garlic until onion begins to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the pine nuts and stir and cook another two minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice and remaining ingredients.
- Use a small spoon to fill the hollowed zucchini with the rice mixture. Work from both ends, making sure zucchinis are completely filled. Brush or spray them quickly with a small amount of olive oil, if you like, and place them in a dish under a preheated broiler for 10-15 minutes, watching carefully and turning regularly, until tender and lightly charbroiled.
If you have to make this with dried herbs, just use about 1/3 of the amount called for. And I have to say that the rice tastes wonderful on its own, so consider making it as a side dish if you don’t feel like stuffing zucchini.
Cooking time (duration): 45
Number of servings (yield): 6
This recipe is geared toward what’s fresh in my garden right now, so feel free to experiment with other herbs. I feel very fortunate that I have oregano that stays green year-round, parsley that never dies, and, most important of all, parents who grow Meyer lemons! If I were to make this recipe later in the summer, I would definitely choose to use plenty of basil and perhaps fresh tomatoes, and I would cook them on the barbecue grill. But that’s something to look forward to in June.