Zucchini Stuffed with Pilaf

Ordinary, even left over pilaf can become a beautiful dish. In my version, I decided to improve upon it in a couple of ways. For starters, I paired it with colorful, saucy zucchini. Then, for its presentation, I gave it a tight, petite circular form. This dish can either be served as a side dish or main entrée. Easy to make, but impressive for both the eyes and the palette.

Zucchini Stuffed with Pilaf

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(Recipe by:Chef Yasue Siewert)

Times

Prep.: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes

Yield

Makes 8 ramekins (2½ inch diameter)

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 medium-size onion, minced
4 oz ground beef *
2 cups cooked white rice (follow instructions on rice package)
2 tbsp ketchup
½ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 zucchini, thinly sliced vertically with potato peeler
non-stick oil spray
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese*

* These ingredients will be excluded for vegan/vegetarian dish.

Directions

To make pilaf, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and cook garlic and onion and sauté until onion is translucent and cooked through. Add ground beef and cook until cooked through. Add cooked white rice and ketchup, season with salt and pepper, cook for another a couple of more minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

If thin-sliced zucchini is hard to work with, microwave for a couple of minutes until tender and cool off.

Spray a ramekin with a nonstick oil spray (either olive oil or canola oil). Line the ramekin with 3 to 4 slices of zucchini, each at a 60 degree angle from the next - that means the bottom and sides of the ramekin will be covered by zucchini and around the edges will be 6 "petals" evenly spaced. Fill ramekin with 2 tbsp of pilaf and sprinkle ½ tsp parmesan cheese. Fold zucchini "petals" into center, covering the pilaf. Push a little bit to set. Repeat with other ramekins.

Place ramekins on sheet pan, and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

Invert each ramekin onto a flat plate, carefully sliding out contents. Serve warm.

Serve with tomato sauce if it is as an entrée.

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