Stuffed courgettes in yoghurt

This was the first part of my Eastern Mediterranean feast on Saturday. Inspired by an Ottolenghi recipe my mum saved me from Waitrose magazine, I adapted it to make this vegetarian dish. Rather than stuff the courgettes with minced lamb, as is traditional in Turkey for example, I added chickpeas instead. Any kind of lentils that hold their shape during cooking would probably work in this, but chickpeas seemed the easiest.

Individually stuffing and tying the courgettes was a bit of a faff – I nearly lost patience at several points, such as when one courgettes belly-flopped and lost nearly all its stuffing – but persevering was definitely worth it. The results were delicious, even if I do say so myself.

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Serves: 5

Time needed: 25 mins prep, 1 hr cooking

 

What you need

5 courgettes, ends trimmed and halved lengthways

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 x 400g chickpeas in water, drained and rinsed

¾ tsp ground allspice

1 tsp salt

500ml natural yoghurt

1 egg

150ml chicken stock

1 tbsp butter

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

½ tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Cooking string (for tying courgettes together)

 

How to make it

  1. First prepare the courgettes. Scoop the flesh out of each courgette half. Use a teaspoon and scrape out the flesh so that you end up with about half a centimetre of flesh left. Put the flesh in a bowl for later.
  2. Blanch the courgettes in a deep pan of salted boiling water for 4 minutes until just soft, then drain and rinse in cold water. Place on kitchen paper and set aside to cool.
  3. Now prepare the stuffing. Bring the chickpeas to boil in a small saucepan of water, and cook for 5 minutes. Once heated through, drain and mash with a potato masher (or the bag of a spoon).
  4. While the chickpeas are cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, then cook the onions until turning golden. Add the courgette flesh, and cook for a further 5 minutes until softened and also turning golden. Now add the mashed chickpeas and 2 tablespoons of chicken stock. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, before adding the allspice, half a teaspoon of salt and a little black pepper. Simmer for a further 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  5. Now it’s time to stuff those courgettes. Lay one courgette half on top of two lengths of string (long enough to tie around a stuffed courgette). Spoon the chickpea mixture into the courgette, piling it high. Place the matching half on top, then tie firmly at each end with the string. Set aside while you tie the remaining courgettes.
  6. Use a piece of kitchen towel to wipe out the pan, then heat one tablespoon of oil over a medium heat. Return the stuffed courgettes to the pan and cook until soft and browning on the outsides (about 15 minutes). Once ready, remove from the pan once again.
  7. Wipe out the pan again, and place over a very low heat. Mix the yoghurt, egg and 100ml of chicken stock and stir gently. Heat very slowly until warm, stirring all the time – do not allow to boil, or the yoghurt will split. Return the courgettes to the pan now, and spoon over the yoghurt. Simmer for 5 minutes or so until heated through, and set aside.
  8. Finally, prepare the garnish. Heat the butter in a small saucepan. Once it starts to foam, toss in the garlic. As soon as the colour starts to change, add the chilli flakes. Cooke for a further minute or so, then drizzle over the courgettes. Finally, sprinkle with a little chopped parsley and serve!

 

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