Serves: 4 – 6
Preparation time: 1 3/4 hours
In Greece, this dish is known as Kolokithakia Gemista Me Kima. A wonderful main dish in the summer months, when zucchinis are plentiful. Serve with roasted potatoes and cherry tomatoes.
There are a number of steps involved in preparing this dish, but the result is worth the work.
- 4 medium-size zucchinis, about 2 lbs (900 g)
- 5 Tbsp uncooked plain white rice
- 1/2 cup (115 g) finely chopped onions
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 1/4 lb (115 g) ground lamb or beef
- 1 tsp lemon rind (finely shredded)
- 4 oz (115 g) fresh chopped tomatoes
- pinch of cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 1/2 cups (about 600 ml) chicken broth
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil to sautée onions
- 1 Tbsp olive oil to brush baking dish
- 1 Tbsp olive oil to brush zucchinis
For the Avgolemono sauce (optional):
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice or to taste
- 1 egg beaten
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
Cut the zucchinis crosswise, you need about 2 1/2 inch (about 6 cm) long pieces. Do not use the mini zucchini, they will be difficult to scoop out and break.
Scoop out the seeded center of the zucchini with a melon scooper or a small spoon. Leave about 3/8 inch (1 cm) around the sides and bottom. Salt the interior lightly and set aside. Reserve the scooped-out zucchini flesh, it will be mixed with the meat later.
Heat olive oil in a saucepan, add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook stirring until onion is wilted. Add the ground lamb or beef, the reserved zucchini flesh, lemon rind, tomatoes, rice, dill, parsley, cinnamon, salt and pepper to the onion-garlic mixture in the saucepan. Blend well. Add 1/2 cup (120 ml) chicken broth. Let it simmer for about 10 min. or until all liquid has evaporated.
Taste for salt and pepper again. Let it cool for about 5 minutes. Carefully fill the zucchinis with the meat mixture. Make sure you don’t overstuff. The rice will expand and the zucchinis will shrink when cooked. Pat the tops evenly.
Select a baking dish large enough to hold the zucchinis in one layer. Brush the baking dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Brush the zucchini skins lightly with olive oil. Place the zucchinis on their sides in the baking dish and pour 1 cup (240 ml) of chicken broth around the zucchinis. Place the dish in the 350°F (175°C) preheated oven and bake it for 1 1/4 hour, turning the zucchinis around after 30 minutes of baking. Check once in a while with a toothpick for doneness. You should be able to pierce the zucchinis without encountering any resistance.
You may serve the zucchinis as they come from the oven. Another option is to serve them with an Avgolemono sauce, a typical Greek sauce.
Avgolemono Sauce (optional):
Pour the cooking liquid from the baking pan in a measured glass. Keep the zucchinis warm in a 200°F (about 100°C) oven. Strain the cooking liquid to filter out any impurities. Add the remaining 1 cup (240 ml) of chicken broth. Taste for salt and pepper. Warm it up (don’t boil) and take it away from the heat.
In a separate bowl beat lemon juice and egg together until frothy. Pour it slowly into the cooking liquid whisking it vigorously. Carefully reheat the mixture for 10 seconds or a bit longer always stirring. Don’t heat it too much or the egg will curdle.
Divide the sauce among the plates, arrange the filled zucchinis on top.