Zucchini stuffed with ground beef and rice is a basic recipe with variations across a range of cuisines, from Italian to Greek to Egyptian. According to Magda Mehdawny, Egyptian cookbook author, the dish is probably Persian in origin. It is similar to a wealth of other recipes that involve stuffing vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes and peppers. These stuffed vegetables are typically served either hot, cold or at room temperature.
Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them in half lengthwise.
Boil water in a medium-size saucepan.
Blanch the zucchini halves by dropping them in the boiling water and letting them cook for about 30 seconds. The purpose of this step is to soften them a bit, not to fully cook them.
Drain the zucchini. Scoop out must of the pulp with a teaspoon when they're cool enough to handle. Work carefully, taking care to remove as much of the zucchini flesh as possible without tearing the skin.
Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a medium-size skillet. Add 1/2 lb. ground beef and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook on medium-high heat for five to 10 minutes, until well browned.
Mix the cooked beef with 1 cup cooked white or brown rice, 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes and another 1/2 tsp. salt.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stuff a few tablespoons of the beef and rice mixture into each zucchini shell.
Arrange the stuffed zucchini halves on a baking sheet and spoon tomato juice over them.
Bake for about 30 minutes.
Instead of using canned tomatoes, blanch fresh tomatoes, remove their skins and seeds, chop them and add them to the beef and rice mixture. For extra flavor, season the beef and rice mixture with dill, mint, parsley or lemon. To make the mixture hold together better, add an egg.
Top stuffed zucchini with cheese, if desired.