Raf’s Mom makes this dish for us nearly every time we visit, but this was the first time she made it with Zucchini (she normally makes it with bell peppers or tomatoes) and it was by far my favorite. This is a dish that Raf’s maternal grandmother used to make and she passed the recipe along to her daughter who in turn has passed it along to me. The original recipe called for white rice and ground Lamb, but Raf’s mom modified it into a much healthier but equally as delicious vegan dish. She normally eyeballs most of her recipes, so there is a lot of room to play around with amounts to satisfy your particular tastes. If you have any left over filling after stuffing the zucchini, and you probably will, you can just cook it for 10 mins and eat it separately, or use it to stuff a pepper or tomato if you have any.
When I made the dish, I had some left over white rice that I used in place of the brown and I only had dried parsley on hand so I used a couple tablespoons of that (if you have fresh, definitely use that, it makes a big difference, but it’s still yummy either way).
6 to 8 zucchinis
1 cup uncooked Quinoa or Brown rice (I used 1/2 cup of each)
1/2 cup split peas or use a cup of crumbled tofu
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 can 8 oz tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp garlic chili sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp dried or chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp dried Dill
2 tbsp dried chives
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 can 16 oz tomato sauce
3 tbsp lemon juice
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning (spaghetti or pizza seasoning also work)
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
The easiest way to prepare the zucchini is to cut them in half and scoop out the center of each half and set aside (but if you want to get fancy and do it the way Raf’s mom does it, you can cut the stem end off and scoop out the inner flesh using a zucchini corer). Cook the rice and quinoa separately. Cook the spilt peas with a little bit of salt. Drain the water, set aside.
Sauté the onions and garlic for two mins, add garlic chili sauce and the scooped out zucchini flesh and sauté for another min. If you are using tofu you can add it to the onion mixture and fry them for few more mins. Add your herbs and the rest of the ingredients, mix them well and turn off the heat.
Spoon stuffing into the center of zucchini halves.
Mix together all the sauce ingredients and pour them into a 9×13 baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish. Place the zucchini halves in the baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake for an hour or until the zucchini is tender. You may need to add some water to your sauce while baking.