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Stuffed Courgettes with currants

Another delicious Middle-Eastern dish from Honey & Co. This is really unusual and tastes delicious. It serves 4 as a main course but you could also serve smaller portions as a side with lamb.

Wine suggestion: perfect with a lighter, fruity red from Spain or Italy. Our choice was the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo which is a very youthful, easy-drinking Sangiovese with less extraction (tannins and colour) than a full-blown Chianti Classico or other Tuscan greats. By being lighter it was charming with the courgettes and the low tannins didn’t fight the spices. If you were having them as a side alongside lamb we would have stepped up to a richer Primitivo from Puglia, a Nero d’Avola from Sicily or maybe a good Lebanese red like Ch Musar or Massaya.

Medias – courgettes filled with lemon rice & currants – serves 4

  • 4 even-sized courgettes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • salt
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 125g risotto rice
  • 40g dried currants
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 375ml water
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes
  • 15-20g parsley, picked and chopped
  • 1 tbsp dill

Halve the courgettes lengthways and remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Lay the scooped out halves in a  baking tray with sides that come up a bit higher than the courgettes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then gently fry the onion, cinnamon stick and ½ tsp salt to soften the onion without colouring. Then mix in the turmeric, allspice and cayenne. Cook for 30 seconds before adding the risotto rice and stir to coat. Add another ½ tsp salt and the currants and pour over the lemon juice and water. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for 1 minute, then drain through a colander over a bowl to catch the liquid.

Cut the tomatoes into thin slices and stir into the rice along with the chopped parsley and dill (reserve a little parsley to garnish). Divide the rice mixture between the courgettes – don’t overfill as the rice will swell as it cooks. Pour the reserved liquid into the tray so the courgettes are half-submerged (top up with a bit of water if needed).

Put a sheet of greaseproof paper directly on top of the courgettes and cover the tin with tinfoil to entirely seal.

Cook in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, then open and baste the courgettes with the liquid. Recover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Pierce the courgettes with a small knife to check they are very soft.

Baste again and sprinkle with the reserved parsley and another pinch of cayenne pepper.

Serve with a green salad and some fresh goats’ yogurt if you like.

(Original recipe from Honey & Co.: Food from the Middle East by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, Saltyard Books, 2014.)

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