Sunday, 6 September 2009
There are lots of vegetables in the market just waiting to be stuffed: aubergines, bell peppers, courgettes and the most enormous white cabbages. Even the courgette flowers get stuffed...in fact anything that looks like it can be stuffed is fair game.
Most Turkish women have their own recipes for the stuffing mixture. I vary mine depending on what I fancy at the time.
Mostly the main ingredient is cooked rice. Although I often use bulgar, soaked in boiling water with a stock cube added for extra flavour.
Then it's really up to you to add whatever you think will make a tasty stuffing. Chopped onions and tomatoes, fried in olive oil, tomato paste, allspice, crushed red pepper (chilli), chopped parsley and dill. If you want to add meat to the stuffing then minced beef or lamb is good, or one of my favourites...chopped chicken livers. Meat in the mixture is particularly good for stuffed cabbage leaves, aubergines and courgettes.
Prepare your vegetables:
Bell peppers should be thin...slice off the tops and scoop out the insides. Save the tops to use as a lid...but another good idea is to use tomato peel as a lid.
The most suitable vine leaves are those with thin veins. Cut out the stalk and a small "V" shape to get rid of most of the tough veins. Bring to the boil in salted water, simmer for a few minutes and drain.
Similarly with the cabbage leaves..cut out the stalk and a V shape, blanch and drain.
Stuff the peppers and add their lids and place upright in a large saucepan. Add about an inch of water. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and simmer for about half an hour, until they are soft.
With the vine and cabbage leaves...place some stuffing in the centre...fold the sides into the centre and roll them up....Place side by side in a large pan, add a little water and simmer until cooked.
With courgettes and aubergines...slice lengthways and scoop out the flesh from the middle. Add the stuffing mix (and I find that meat in the stuffing mix is best for these vegetables)...place in an oiled roasting dish...cover in tin foil and bake in the oven until soft.
Any of these cooked stuffed vegetables can be served hot or cold. They are particularly enjoyable served with natural yogurt (I always add some chopped garlic to mine).