Mehshi (Stuffed veggies)

A common denominator to all people who live around the Eastern Mediterranean: They love to stuff their veggies!

In Lebanese cuisine, they are stuffed in two major ways: One includes meat and is served hot; the other is meatless and is served at room temperature.

The vegan variety of stuffed veggies is  used a lot for fasting days, but also for mezzes, when folks will congregate over fifties or so little plates of titbits, drink some arak, and discuss all topics under the sun for hours on end.

I was checking Peter‘s recipe to see how the Greeks differ in  stuffing ingredients; well, it is fairly similar except we like to add lemon juice in our cooking broth. The veggies come out tasting lemony and silky smooth (from the olive oil).

Here is yet another opportunity to add a dash of pomegranate molasses in the broth if you have some.

Keep in mind that this dish is mild-tasting and can easily become bland, so if you like a certain spice, go for it! I tried using cilantro and dill this time instead of the usual parsley and I loved it. Pine nuts are de rigueur, but any other nut will do, even pistachios, why not!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of assorted veggies (could be baby eggplants, calabasa squash, yellow squash, small peppers, onions or carrots)
  • 3/4 cup of rice (sushi or Egyptian or Turkish or arborio)
  • 1 small onion (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 cup of finely chopped herbs (I used dill and cilantro)
  • 2 cups of finely diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of lemon juice
  • 3 large tomatoes or potatoes to line the pot
  • 1 Tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (optional)
  • salt, to taste, 1/2 tablespoon of seven-spice or allspice and cinnamon combined
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts

METHOD:

  1. The best veggies for this dish are the tiny, baby ones: Baby eggplants and small calabasa squash are sold at Middle-Eastern groceries, but if not, just use regular ones and cut them up to fit, using the extra for an omelette or fritters. Core the veggies with a corer or a grapefruit spoon. Reserve the flesh inside to cook later and use for fritters or just eat on the side with a pat of butter or olive oil.
  2. Mix in a bowl: Rice, herbs, tomatoes,pine nuts, onion (chopped fine), spices, and lemon juice and olive oil. Add the molasses at this point too. Stuff the veggies leaving a little space on top for the rice to expand. Set aside all the leftover juice to use later.
  3. Line a pot large enough to hold all veggies in one layer with thick slices of potatoes or tomatoes. Dispose the veggies on the potatoes or tomatoes. Take a small plate and place it directly on top of the veggies. This is to hold them in place while they are cooking. Now gently pour the remaining lemon and olive oil juice on the veggies, adding extra water to come almost to the top.
  4. Cover the pot and place over medium heat. When the broth starts boiling, reduce the heat and let the pot simmers very slowly for one hour. Remove the cover and test by tasting some rice; turn off the heat when ready and let the veggies cool.
  5. To serve, place the veggies on a platter and spoon the sauce all around if desired.

NOTE: Traditionally, the flesh of the veggies is used for fritters either served at the same meal or the next meal as an appetizer. To get a recipe for fritters click here.

If using carrots, it is a good idea to parboil them to soften them so that coring is a doable job.

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26 Comments

  1. Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    I read about this earlier but never got around to try it. The trick of layering the pan with potatoes so that the veggies do not burn is a good one.

  2. Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful! I’ll take them both!

  3. Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    This is great. I had bought a packet of sushi rice and i was thinking of how to finally finish the packet. This is excellent way :)

  4. Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Hey Joumana!

    I love the stuffed vegetables and would like to stuff mine too. However, I am looking to buy a vegetable corer, here in Dallas but have had no luck yet. Once I lay my hands on it, I WILLtry it:)

  5. Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    looks amazing ever i need to stuff some veggies :-)

  6. Posted April 22, 2011 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    More veggies should be stuffed. That way, even picky kids will eat their veggies!

  7. Posted April 22, 2011 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    I eat something similar at our favorite Turkish restaurant here and every time I wonder, “what do they do with the bits they discard?” Now I know.. you make fritters with them. I’m definitely making these. I’ve got some lovely green peppers and zucchini that would be perfect to stuff.

  8. Posted April 22, 2011 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    Looks wonderful!! We love stuffed veggies, but we’ve never added nuts to ours. Sounds interesting though! :)

  9. Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    Les mini-aubergines sont une spécialité du Moyen-orient à mon avis.
    Même à Paris, où on trouve généralement tout, je n’en vois pas.
    J’aime beaucoup les légumes farcis. Il y a aussi la version des courgettes farcies frites d’abord puis mises en sauce.
    C’est plus calorique mais tellement bon.
    J’ai regardé ta dernière vidéo. Bravo mon amie, c’est le début de la célébrité.
    A très bientôt.

  10. Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    There must be something in the air… I’ve just posted a recipe to make stuffed tomatoes. I stuff mine with farro, olives and capers… they are pretty similar to yours.

  11. Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Love stuffed veggies, looks wonderful..

  12. Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Excellent. Sophia is correct, I made some stuffed yellow squash earlier this week and my kids loved it. “Koosa” was one of my favs as a kid.

  13. Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    It’s healthy to stuff all those vegetable in such a delicious way! Never used pine nuts but want to give a try!

  14. Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I don’t feel qualified to provide commentary on any of your advice or recommendations, but I’m going to do it this once: I concur on using a grapefruit spoon to core and hollow out veggies. I basically use two kitchen utensils: a chef’s knife and a grapefruit spoon. Sometimes a Micro-plane zester. Occasionally a rolling pin. But other than that, a chef’s knife and a grapefruit spoon will get the job done. Cheers!

  15. Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Dreaming of the Med and a platter of those mezzes! They look divine.

  16. Posted April 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Some Greeks might add lemon juice or spices as you have but that varies from region to region and home to home. Stuffed vegetables (especially red peppers) are one of my favourite of the vegetarian meals. I do love a slab of feta with it when it’s not Lent.

    Your stuffed vegetables have made me hungry and wish I had them for lunch now!

  17. Posted April 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant! I am absolutely loving this. I love the veggie stuffed offerings as well. So often all that is ever given is “grilled veggies.” Stuffing them with nuts and spices is a great way to let them stand on their own. Although, I must confess that when you add a little meat….;-)

  18. Posted April 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Joumana what kind of pepper are you using here? Are those Anaheim or Cubanelle peppers? Gorgeous color. Rice stuffed veggies rock. A side of gigante beans floating on a thick tomato sauce would make this my perfect meal :)
    Cheers,
    heguiberto

  19. Posted April 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Here in Sebia we also love our veggies stuffed.Cabbage, egg plant, zuchini, sorrel, wine leaves, peppers… The influence that spans over centuries made an impression in our country too. Beautiful dish!

  20. Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful to use an assortment… each bringing its own special quality to the party… lovely recipe and idea, Joumana!

  21. Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Mouthful healthful! I like it!

  22. Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    I love the addition of nuts! Your recipe is a keeper!

  23. Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    In Italy we fill veggies with breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs. The secret for it to work is to use a lot of olive oil: the vegetables are actually filled of oil. It actually tastes glorious cold. We also make vegetables filled with meat, or with other mixed vegetables.
    I love them all and I can’t wait to try yours. They are a bit of work, but probably one f my favourite dishes ever.

  24. Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Very similar to the recipe I use. You know I’m all about splashing in the pom molasses, too. Great addition!

  25. Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    J’Adore les légumes farcis, cette recette est délicieuse.

  26. Posted April 27, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I love these! We can get baby eggplants and the little calabasa squash here and I always have fun with them :) Nice idea with the pistachio…I agree, why not!

3 Trackbacks

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    [...] In case you don’t have them at hand, copped toasted walnuts taste fantastic too. View recipe here. Kafta kebabs. Image from [...]

  2. By Mashallah News → Mountain food on August 18, 2011 at 10:34 am

    [...] which is a staple in Lebanese kitchens and essential to dishes like fattoush, mohammara, and stuffed vegetables. Today, with debes ruman being mass-produced, it is small-scale farmers and producers that are the [...]

  3. […] For more ideas for stuffed vegetables, you can check on La Tartine Gourmande and peperoni ripieni with bulgur&tuna fish (Bread and Companatico) and Taste of Beruit. […]

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