Dolma means “stuffed” in Turkish, referring to stuffed vegetable dishes. Best known dolma by far is the stuffed grape leaves. Other vegetables that are used in making dolma are peppers, eggplants, zucchini, tomatoes, cabbage, Swiss chards and onions. There are two versions of dolma. One with meat filling, other meatless. Both are made with a grain like rice or bulgur, onions and different herbs and spices depending on the version. Recipe below is made with ground beef and rice. Meatless recipe to follow at a later time. Dolma is great comfort food, tasty and satisfying. Like many Turkish dishes, it is usually served with yogurt on the side.
6 medium zucchini
1 lb mixed red/orange/yellow small peppers
½ lb lean ground beef
½ cup rice, washed and drained
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup fresh dill, chopped
1 table spoon paprika
salt & pepper to taste
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup boiling water
Cut the tops of the peppers, remove seeds, wash, set in a pot.
Peel and wash the zucchinis. Cut the top 1/3 of the zucchinis. Using a melon baller and a small tea spoon, remove the inside of the bottom parts of the zucchinis (see picture). Save the top portions and the pieces that come from the inside. You can make zucchini dip (see recipe dated Feb 20,2012) using the leftover zucchini pieces. Sprinkle paprika inside the zucchini shells. Set them also inside the cooking pot.
peppers ready to be filled
zucchini ready to be filled
peppers and zucchini in the pot, ready to be filled
In a bowl, place ground beef, rice, onions, dill, olive oil, salt & pepper. Mix well with a spoon. Fill the peppers and the zucchini with the filling.
filling for the dolmas
pepper and zucchini dolmas ready to be cooked
In a separate bowl, mix the tomato paste with boiling water. Add this sauce to the pot. DO NOT pour it over the stuffed vegetables, Gently pour from the side, letting the sauce go to the bottom of the pot. Otherwise the dolmas may get mushy. Start cooking over medium heat. When the sauce starts to boil, reduce heat to slow. Let it simmer until the rice is cooked and the peppers are tender, about 30-45 minutes.