I had these delicious spiced zucchini in a small café in Damascus in Syria. They are definitely worth the bit of fuss that is needed to make them. The key is to get small firm zucchini at the beginning of the season, as opposed to massive watery ones that are mostly seeds inside. There is also an alternative preparation method. Simply cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then scrape out all the seeds using a small spoon. Each half is then stuffed with the filling. The zucchini are still fried, but you do not turn them over; otherwise the meat stuffing will fall out!
– 2lb (900g) small zucchini.
– ½ cup olive oil.
– 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
– ½ tsp ground cumin.
– ½ tsp ground cloves.
– ½ tsp ground cinnamon.
– 1 onion, finely chopped.
– 1¼lb (550g) ground lamb.
– ¾ cup pine nuts.
– 3 ripe tomatoes.
– 30 flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped.
– juice of 1 lemon.
– 1 cup good-quality chicken stock.
– salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the garlic, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the onion and cook until soft and pale golden, then add the lamb. Continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated, breaking up and stirring the lamb around the pan to brown evenly. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix in the pine nuts. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Step 3: Cut a cross in the bottom of the tomatoes and, using the tip of a small sharp knife, remove the core from each one. Blanch in boiling water for 10 seconds, then refresh in cold water. Peel off the skin and discard. Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds, and cut the flesh into a small dice. Set aside.
Step 4: Using a small spoon, stuff the zucchini with the lamb mixture, pushing the filling down into each zucchini so it is plump with stuffing. Heat the remaining oil, and cook the zucchini, turning, until soft. Cook in batches while continuing to stuff the remainder of the zucchini.
Step 5: Mix the diced tomato with the parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice and chicken stock. Place the cooked zucchini in a flameproof dish. Pour the tomato mixture over the top, and cook over medium heat until the sauce is hot. Serve with rice or bread. This dish works particularly well with a selection of other mezze dishes, with lots of hot bread to soak up all the good cooking juices.
Note : Ablama Zucchini stuffed with lamb and pine nuts