A long, long time ago, when I lived in Israel and had a vegan flatmate, I used to make variations on this dish quite regularly. It always went down well as part of a large-scale Shabbat meal for a crowd.
And, as these things occasionally do, this dish bubbled up from the depths of my memory recently, and I decided to give it a whirl ahead of Succot, the Jewish harvest festival, when stuffed foods are traditionally eaten as a symbol of ‘plenty’.
I always find a melon baller is the best tool for scooping out a courgette for stuffing. You can use the small scoop at the narrower ends and the larger scoop in the middle. I never make melon balls, so this kind of vegetable-hollowing is the only use my melon baller gets!
As it happened, Kipper and I were going out and wouldn’t be back until dinner time, so these stuffed courgettes were a great menu choice. I made them earlier in the afternoon and then left them in the oven with the timer set, so that it would come on and bake them in time for our return.
When we got home, I lifted off the foil cover and gave them five more minutes to brown slightly while we set the table. Then, YUM, we tucked in. The stuffed courgettes didn’t disappoint. They were just as I remembered, and very delicious!
DH, who I’m sure I’ve mentioned is not a huge fan of vegan food, ate three and declared them to be very good. Kipper was less certain. Although she had eaten an ENORMOUS hunk of bread while we’d been out, so probably just had no appetite. I was a little surprised when she wouldn’t even pick out the pieces of pepper, which she loves. I’ll have to make it again and give it to her when she’s hungrier…
I definitely won’t be waiting another 10 or 15 years before I make these stuffed courgettes again, at any rate! They are a brilliant make-ahead main course, and are tasty, filling and quite pretty to look at too.
I did three big courgettes, making six stuffed halves in total to serve the three of us. You can easily scale the recipe – allow one big courgette per person.
- 100g bulgar wheat
- 3 medium-large courgettes
- 1 leek
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red pepper
- 250ml vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 30g pine nuts
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Cover the bulgar wheat with plenty of boiling water and leave to soak. Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Cut the courgettes in half lengthways, and scoop out the centres to form a 'boat'. (I find the easiest way to do this is with a melon baller.) Put the hollowed out courgettes into a baking dish and set aside. Finely chop the scooped out courgette flesh.
- Trim the leek and slice finely. Peel the garlic cloves and crush them. Remove the seeds and cut the pepper into small dice.
- Heat the olive oil over a low-medium heat and cook the courgette, leek, garlic and pepper for around 10 minutes, until soft.
- Meanwhile, drain the bulgar wheat and press out any excess water. Add to the vegetables with the stock, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the bulgar mixture into the hollowed out courgettes - press it in well and pile it up on top. Sprinkle over the pine nuts and drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil.
- Cover the baking dish with foil, and bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes until the pine nuts are crisp.