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Our adorable Jordanian neighbors (mom and toddler) are still gone visiting family and friends back home in Jordan so we haven’t had our fix of freshly made Arabic food. Thankfully I found an informative food blogger that has tons of traditional recipes for vegans to test out at home. Since I grew up in a small town in Michigan, there was no much of a chance to try Arabic foods. I guess that means now I am overcompensating and trying out everything, even if it means searching online for authentic recipes. Thankfully we all live in an era that has endless possibilities with finding recipes from other countries – thanks to the internet. *happy dance*

This last week I made Mashi (dolmas or whatever else you want to call them in your country) in our rice cooker. Yep, you read that correctly in the Japanese Hello Kitty rice cooker. Haha Of all things, it worked great! My husband laughs at me for my HK rice cooker but there have been so many things that I have easily created with it. Our neighbor makes this dish in her pressure cooker for the mega masses, but thankfully my HK only holds around 8 cups of cooked rice so when making stuffed zucchini I don’t have a million and one leftovers to worry about fitting into the freezer. Considering my husband asked how I had prepared the dish after devouring the batch, so I guess that is testament to the fact it worked out great. So if you have a rice cooker, go ahead with my directions given below.  The original recipe came from the delightful One Arab Vegan who I just adore and read daily.

Quinoa Stuffed Mahshi Kousa (Arabic Stuffed Zucchini)
Serves 4-6

– 6-8 baby zucchini (we could only find them at a local Arabic store)
– 1 large bell pepper (optional)
– 1c dry quinoa (or other grain such as millet, amaranth and/or so on- use a mix too)
– 1 Tbsp tomato paste
– 1/3c chopped fresh parsley
– 1/3c chopped fresh dill
– 1 medium red onion, chopped finely
– 1 large tomato, chopped finely
– 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 organic vegetable bouillon (I used organic vegan “Better than Bouillon”)
– sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Prep the marrows by washing, then hollowing out the insides (make sure to save these as you will need them later). I actually used an apple peeler/corer which took about two seconds per zucchini which I’m sure our neighbor is going to be delighted to learn how to do since it takes her hours in the kitchen to prepare with a traditional Arabic tool or spoon.

2. Next comes the “khalta” (the stuffing). Add the quinoa, fresh herbs, onion, tomatoes, oil and salt and tomato paste and mix thoroughly.
3. As a general rule everything should be equally proportioned, so if you’re noticing more herbs or onions add in some quinoa to balance it out. Next, we stuff! Fill the marrows and the bell pepper with the stuffing but be sure not to pack too tightly and leave some room at the top as the quinoa will expand when cooking.
4. Layer the bottom of the rice cooker with the insides of the marrow. I added some chopped tomatoes, sliced onions and leftover filling in the bottom of the rice pot. Next, arrange the marrow and pepper in the pot tightly, pour in about half a cup of stock and turn your rice cooker on.
5. I let my rice cooker bring everything to a boil and once it started to release some stead through the vents, I let it go on for about ten minutes. Then, I just turned the switch off and without opening anything let it sit. We actually let it sit for a bit too long because we went for a run but when we got back, the dish was ready to go on the table. Everything turns out so moist and delicious; you aren’t going to be sorry you took the ten minutes to put everything together. Enjoy!