Monday, January 7, 2008

Etli sebze dolması (stuffed vegetables)

Uncooked rice
Dried mint
Tomato paste
Ground turkey or beef

As you notice, there are no measurements for this recipe. Choose the number of vegetables you would like to stuff and start from there. Cut off the tops of the onions, tomatoes, and peppers and dice the tops and put them into a bowl. Hollow out the tomatoes, onions, and zucchinis, and dice pieces of vegetables that you have removed and add them to the bowl. You can use a melon baller to help you hollow out the zucchinis and onions ~ do not hollow the zucchini all the way through, you must leave one end closed. You can stuff only one type of vegetable if you wish. Remove the seeds from the peppers and discard.

To the bowl of diced veggies, add half as much meat and a quarter as much rice. For example, if you have two cups of diced vegetables, add one cup of meat and ½ cup of uncooked rice. Now add dried mint ~ to the example quantity, you would add about 2 tablespoons of dried mint. Adjust accordingly. Add salt according to your personal preferences. To the example amount, I would add about a teaspoon of salt. Do not get bogged down in the measurements. It is hard to make this dish go wrong.

Now, pull up your sleeves and mix the vegetables, meat and rice together with your hands! If you want to make this dish vegetarian, you could substitute the meat with mushrooms, but you would need to add a few spoonfuls of olive oil to the mixture. This would not be traditional in Turkey, however. Once the mixture is uniform, stuff the hollowed-out vegetables with the mixture. Press the mixture firmly into the vegetables to completely fill them. You may have extra ~ this extra can be frozen and used later. The moisture from the vegetables and meat that is released as the dolma cook will be absorbed by the rice. Put the vegetables open-end up into a saucepan that has a lid. Add about one inch of water to the bottom of the pan and to this add a few spoonfuls of tomato paste. Cover the pan and heat it on medium-low heat until the vegetables are cooked ~ about half an hour. Serve hot with plain yogurt.

OR 5 minutes in a pressure cooker! (quick release method)

**The basic ingredients of the stuffing are the tomatoes, tomato paste, rice, meat, and spices. If you want to stuff only peppers or some other vegetable, you will still need to include these ingredients in your filling.

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