Two things I love about Middle Eastern cuisine are stuffed vegetables and fresh herb-filled salads like tabouleh. When I found some beautiful little globe zucchinis, I thought about combining these two loves into one — zucchinis stuffed with tabouleh. This way, I can have my bowl of tabouleh, and eat it too!
It made for a striking presentation, and was quite simple to prepare. I’m going to try this out sometime at a dinner party; it would be a great accompaniment to grilled meat or kebabs — easy for the host to assemble, and fun for the guests to eat. It might also be good to serve vegetarian guests or as part of a whole vegetarian spread.
Because it was still a bit chilly outside when I made this, I decided to roast up the tomatoes alongside the zucchini bowls in the oven. For a more summery version, I’ll try it simply with chopped fresh tomatoes added at the end. The nutty whole-grain tabouleh went nicely with the cooked zucchini, shallot, tomatoes, garlic, spices & fresh herbs. And a dollop of yogurt sauce with some mint and sumac gave it an extra zing of flavor. Yum!
Tabouleh-Stuffed Globe Zucchinis with Mint & Sumac Yogurt Sauce
(Makes 3 small stuffed globe zucchinis as side dishes or appetizers)
- 3 globe zucchinis
- 20 cherry tomatoes on the vine
- 2 large garlic cloves
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 cup whole grain bulghur
- 1 shallot
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander, 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. allspice
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 green onion
- large bunch mint (about 1/4 cup finely chopped)
- large bunch parsley (about 1/3 cup finely chopped)
- 1 lemon
- sumac (1/4 tsp. + 1/4 tsp.)
- yogurt sauce: 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 bunch mint, drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper, sumac
- more fresh mint & parsley, lemon for garnish (optional)
- Check the package directions of the bulghur – mine is a red whole-grain bulghur wheat that requires a full hour of soaking. I boiled 1 cup water and combined with one cup bulghur in a bowl, covered with saran wrap and let sit for a full hour as the grains absorbed the water and softened up. Otherwise, prepare the bulghur according to package directions.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F/ 190 C. Wash the outsides of the globe zucchinis thoroughly under cold water. Slice the tops off with a straight, even cut and reserve. Use a short knife to cut around the edge inside the zucchini and scoop out the flesh with a spoon; reserve this zucchini flesh in a bowl for later. Carve out the inside of the zucchini with the spoon, scraping out enough flesh so the zucchini bowl is about 1/4-inch thick or less.
- If roasting the tomatoes, gently wash the tomatoes but keep them on the vine if possible. Grease a ceramic or glass baking dish with a little olive oil, then place the vine of tomatoes and the zucchinis in the dish. Place the two garlic cloves, skins and all in the dish too. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil inside and outside the zucchinis and use your hands to spread the oil evenly on all surfaces of the zucchini. Lightly sprinkle salt & pepper inside them and place the tops on. Roast the dish of vegetables for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mince a shallot and cook in a tablespoon of olive oil on low heat in a large saute pan. Chop then mince the scooped-out zucchini and sprinkle some salt over it; let it sit on the cutting board for a couple minutes, then add the zucchini with juices to the shallot in the pan. While it cooks, sprinkle in the spices — coriander, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon — and salt and pepper to taste. Chop off the white part of the green onion, mince this white part and add to the pan; stir and let cook on low heat until softened and flavors meld, about 5 minutes more.
- When contents of the pan are cooked, remove from the heat and add the sumac, juice of 1/2 a lemon, a drizzle of good olive oil, more salt & pepper if desired. Then finely chop the fresh mint & parsley and the remaining green & light green parts of the green onion and add.
- Prepare the yogurt sauce: combine Greek yogurt with chopped mint and 1/4 tsp. sumac and a drizzle of olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. (Note: If you don’t have sumac, add some lemon zest and lemon juice to give it some zing.)
- Remove the baking dish from the oven at 45 minutes of roasting and take the tomatoes and garlic out; return the zucchini bowls, tops off and placed to the side in the baking dish, to the oven for another 15 minutes. When the garlic is cool enough to touch, remove the skins and chop, then mince, and add the roasted garlic to the veggies in the pan. Holding the vine of the tomatoes, gently pull off the tomato skins, and then remove the tomatoes from the vine, chop, and add to the pan. (Note: If using just fresh tomatoes, you can just chop and add them to the pan here).
- Add the soaked bulghur to the pan and mix well.
- When zucchini bowls are cooked, remove from the oven and squirt more fresh lemon juice inside. Stuff the bulghur-veggie mixture inside them (Any reserve mixture can be set at the table in a bowl for anyone who wants more filling as they get to the bottom of the zucchini). Top with more fresh herbs if desired, and dollop some yogurt sauce on top and leave the reserve yogurt sauce in a bowl at the table. You can place the zucchini tops back on, or place to the side. Best eaten with a fork & knife, though kids can enjoy eating the contents with a spoon.