Almost Turkish Recipes

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini Flowers (Zeytinyağlı Kabak Çiçeği Dolması)














In his novel Karıncanın Su İçtiği (Ant Drinking Water), the second volume of a series titled Bir Ada Hikayesi (An Island Story), one of my favorite Turkish writers, Yaşar Kemal, writes about stuffed zucchini flowers in a way that resembles his famous descriptions of cotton fields, horses, snakes, the Taurus mountains, rain, the sea, i.e. nature in general. He writes in meticulous detail about this delicate Aegean dish so that while reading the novel you feel like you almost can taste it. After finishing Karıncanın Su İçtiği, I really wanted to have stuffed zucchini flowers, a delicious dolma dish that I first tasted when I was visiting Bodrum peninsula. Bodrum offers a great variety of Aegean dishes once you can pass its ranked #2 after Istanbul wild nightlife.
Although dealing with delicate flowers might seem difficult, to make stuffed zucchini flower is not harder than any other dolma dish. The demanding part is to find zucchini flowers. If you are already growing zucchini plants, pick flowers early in the morning when they are open and free of bugs. On the other hand, if you don't have a garden you might find zucchini flowers at farmer's markets (possibility:low), flea markets with produce sections (possibility: medium), or at Mexican grocery stores/markets (possibility: high).












serves 4
20 zucchini flowers
1 1/2 cup rice
2 medium onions, very finely chopped or grated
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp currants
2 tbsp pine nuts
1/2 tsp allspice or cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1 or more tsp salt
juice of 1/2 lemon or 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1-2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup finely chopped dill
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley (save the stems)
-Trim the stems and remove the stamens from the flower. It might be tricky to remove the stamen; I used a little knife to cut the stamen. Wash the zucchini flowers, check inside for any unwanted guests, and then place them in a bowl of hot (not boiling hot, though) water to soften. Set aside.
-Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a pot. Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.
-Add rice and stir for 5 minutes.
-Add currants, pine nuts, sugar, allspice or cinnamon, black pepper and salt.
-Add 1 cup water and cook on low until water is absorbed. Turn it off.
-Add greens: dill, mint, parsley, and lemon juice or pomegranate molasses. Mix well and set aside to cool down.
-Place the parsley stems that you saved at the bottom of a pot. If you do not have parsley stems you can cover the bottom of the pot with vine leaves or apple skin. Flowers are very delicate so you don't want to put them directly on the pot.
-Drain zucchini flowers. With a small spoon or your fingers stuff each flower with the rice stuffing: gently open up the petals, put the stuffing, and seal the flower by folding the petals one by one around the filling.
-Place stuffed flowers tight on parsley stems (or whatever you have). Sprinkle 2 tbsp olive oil and pour 1 cup of water.
-Find a flat-ish plate that would fir in your pot. Place the plate on stuffed flowers. The weight of the plate will hold the dolmas down and intact.
-Cook covered on low heat until water is absorbed, approximately half an hour.
-Wait at least 20 minutes before taking stuffed zucchini flowers out of the pot.
-Serve warm or cold. Goes well with yogurt.

35 comments:

  1. Hi Burcu, I'm sorry if this sounds like a dumb question. When you mentioned 1.5 cups of rice in the recipe. Is this 1.5 cups of uncooked or cooked rice? Thanks!

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  2. Hi Pei,
    It's uncooked rice.

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  3. Where do you purchase zucchini flowers? I would love to try your recipe, thanks!

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  4. This is a wonderful recipe. Really looks delicious!

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  5. This is beautiful, Burcu! I have always had zucchini blossoms battered and fried, the way my mother makes them. I am afraid I will never get 20 flowers from my little garden. Still, I would love to try your recipe.

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  6. Zucchini flowers are one of favorite foods, Burcu. I've never had them prepared this way before, but I'd love to try them.

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  7. pooh-I find zucchini flowers at Mexican grocery stores or farmers' market. I haven't seen zf at regular farmer's market yet, but you might be lucky depending on where you live.

    vb-thank you!

    simona-oh I love the fried zf, too. Stuff as many flowers as you can find and use the rest of the stuffing for bell peppers, zucchinis, or tomatoes. OR freeze the remaining stuffing for later use.

    susan-I'm with you, Susan. They're surprisingly flavorsome.

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  8. Those look really good. I have been wanting to try zucchini flowers but I have not been able to find them yet.

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  9. what a great blog!! I love Turkish flavors and these stuffed zucchini flowers look divine! Would it still be traditional if I added ground beef to the rice filling?

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  10. Kevin - I always have luck finding them at Mexican markets or grocery stores.

    antonio - it definitely would; we have two versions of every dolma dish-olive oil one, ie. vegetarian and meaty one with ground beef or lamb. When you try with ground meat do not use allspice or cinnamon, pinenuts and currants. And also use less rice. We also usually mix 1 big grated tomato to the meaty stuffing, too.

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  11. The dishes look nice. Thx for the recipes.

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  12. I've seen so many of these recently but I must say yours are the prettiest!

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  13. çok hoş gözüküyor buralarda bulabilmek imkansız geçen gün pazarda domates kasalarına dolgu olarak kullanılmış semizotu buldum ve hepsini istedim verdi pazarcı kadın ne kadar mutlu oldum anlatamam. Belki kabak çiçeğinde de benzer teknikleri denemeliyim.Elinize gözünüze sağlık

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  14. I looove Turkish food especially the dolmas. My Turkish friend also makes this red lentil kofta, and I was wondering if you had the recipe? Whenever I make her recipe, it doesn't turn out good.

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  15. Hi again, just swapping all my feeds over to a reader so don't be offended if you get a notice saying I have unsubscribed by e-mail! Just reading your feed differently now.

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  16. Any stuffing that has rice I love :)

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  17. I have been searching for zucchini flowers for the latter part of the summer...but no luck.

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  18. I have always wanted to try zucchini flowers, but unless you grow them yourself it is not an ingredient I can find in my area,even at the farmer's market.

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  19. Anonymous8:08 AM

    I have never heard such a way to make dolma…. looks yummy...
    I would love to try it but I was wondering would it be ok to substitute the zucchini flowers with butternut squash flowers? I grove butternut squash in my backyard and I have plenty of them…

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  20. Emrah8:08 AM

    I have never heard such a way to make dolma…. looks yummy...
    I would love to try it but I was wondering would it be ok to substitute the zucchini flowers with butternut squash flowers? I grove butternut squash in my backyard and I have plenty of them…

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  21. emrah- honestly I haven't tried it before, but I think it would work just fine. Let me know when you try.

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  22. Hi Burcu! Your stuffed flowers look DELICIOUS! We made deep-fried ones but these seem a lot better for you! I just wanted to let you know I check your blog regularly. We have also been making lots of homemade yogurt - I always think of you! We miss you - say hello to Aaron!

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  23. These are absolutely beautiful. I love how they aren't super greasy and batter heavy.

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  24. Burcu you are incredible. I love kabak cicegi dolmasi. I did not know that you can find the flowers in the marketplace.

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  25. Meltem9:57 AM

    Merhaba Burcu,
    Kabak ciceklerini, yuvarlak kabaklari ve semizotunu tam olarak (hangi market/pazarlardan)nerden aldigini yazabilir misin? Cilek receli ile ilgili yazindan anladigim kadariyla ayni eyalette yasiyoruz. Ben simdiye kadar hicbiryerde semizotu bulamadim buralarda. Verecegin bilgiler beni coook mutlu edecek. Simdiden tesekkurler.
    Meltem

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  26. Merhaba Meltem,
    Demek sen de Georgia'dasin. Ben Athens'da yasiyorum. Semizotu, kabak cicegi ve yuvarlak kabaklari, hatta barbunya fasulye (Meksikalilar barbunyaya october bean diyor) buldugum yer Athens'in biraz disindaki J&J Flea Market. Ama Atlanta yakinlarindaysan Buford Highway ustunde Asya ve Latin Amerika agirlikli Buford Highway Farmer's Market var (Dekalb degil). Georgia'da semizotu ve barbunyayi ilk orada bulmustum. Umarim sen de bu guzelliklere kavusursun.

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  27. Meltem6:50 PM

    Tekrar merhaba Burcu,
    Cabuk cevabin icin cok tesekkurler. Ben Dekalb Farmers Market'a gidiyorum ayda birkac kez. Buford Highway'i denememistim ama giderim mutlaka en kisa zamanda. Tabi Athens civarini da denemek lazim degil mi? Bu arada cok hos buluyorum tariflerini ve fotograflarini. Ellerine ve emeklerine saglik.
    Meltem

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  28. zucchini flowers is very Beautiful. it's really look delicious. Greatly admire your work.there are some great recipes, thank you.

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  29. My first time trying out an exotic dish not under the watchful eye of my mother :D I have to work on my blossom stuffing skills though, they weren't nearly as pretty as yours. But they were delicious, the stuffing was superb.
    Thanks for the great recipe!!!

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  30. Hi Burcu,

    I just prepared this for the first time. It is in the final stage of cooking in a pot with a plate on top.

    I have a couple of questions:
    1. How much rice should I have put in each flower? I was left with 2 flowers (out of 20) that had no rice to be put in..also just after stuffing the flowers with the rice I realized that the rice will cook more and get bigger, which might tear the flowers. Can you advise?
    2. The rice after the cooking per your instructions (before stuffing the flowers) was not fully cooked. It absorbed the water but was half cooked. I know I will find out if that was OK once the flowers will finish cooking but is that the way it is supposed to be?
    3. Final question - how do you hold the flower with the leaves open in order to fill it with rice, and at the same time not tear the leaves?

    Thank you for this recipe! I will update once it is ready and eaten :)

    Hadas

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    Replies
    1. Dear Hadas,
      1.Each flower should be stuffed to leave enough room to close the petals , envelope style; on top of each other. This way you ensure that when dolmas cook and they won't burst.
      2. There are many ways but you might try to make a ring with your thumb and index finger and place the flower in the ring, the mouth of the flower facing up and rest of your fingers supporting it from underneath.
      3. Yes; the rice is half way cooked before stuffing. It will be fully cooked after the whole process.

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  31. Hi Burcu,

    Now after the dish was ready and eaten I can say that it was a big success. One thing only that wasn't clear to me and may have affected the dish; in the final stage of putting the stuffed flowers in a pot you wrote about putting a plate on top of the flowers.
    1. In addition to the plate, should the pot be covered or just with the plate?
    2. 20 flowers don't fit in 1 level, so the ones on top don't cook as well as the ones on the bottom. But I didn't cover the pot, I only used the plate.
    Can you advise on this matter too?

    Thank you so much! I am planning to try more of your recipes!

    Hadas

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    Replies
    1. I am sorry that it wasn't clear from the instructions; the lid should have been on as well. I corrected the instructions. And I think the reason why the top ones didn't cook as well was that the lid wasn't on--I am sorry for the misunderstanding, but happy to hear that it was a successful try.

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    2. Thanks so much for the replies.
      I will try more recipes from your blog soon. I can't wait!
      Hadas

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