Recipes from Istanbul: Selda’s Stuffed Zucchini

Meet our host Selda from Istanbul, Turkey. Inspired by her father, a cook from the Black Sea region of Turkey, Selda prides herself for having a healthy take on traditional Turkish recipes. Selda inherited her father’s love of the kitchen, and is working to open a food studio where she hopes to entertain friends and hold workshops. Don’t expect common kebabs and other heavy meat dishes at Selda’s – she showcases the real food that Turks eat on a daily basis, with a healthy twist.

9_IMG_1781ResizedForWebSelda and her family in their Istanbul home

Read on for her recipe on how to make delicious stuffed zucchini, or kabak dolması.

Another one of those dishes that first comes to mind in Turkey, dolma is traditionally mince meat-stuffed grape vine leaves. But some cooks can make dolma from eggplants, squash, or bell peppers too, often adding pine nuts, rice pilaf and other spices into the mix!

7_Stuffed_peppers_close-up_1Selda’s stuffed zucchini and peppers

Stuffed Zucchini (Kabak Dolması)

Stuffing Ingredients

4 medium-sized zucchinis, peeled

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup short-grain rice

1 pound ground meat (lamb, beef or turkey)

1 cup chopped fresh herbs (any combination of parsley, dill and mint)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup butter

2 cups water

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

Sea salt and pepper, to taste


1. Mix all stuffing ingredients together, except for the zucchini, and refrigerate.

2. Using a small knife, carefully hollow out the inside of the zucchinis. Be sure to remove both ends to make a tub, and take care not to punch through to the outside.

3. Stuff the zucchinis with the stuffing mixture and place them on their sides in a large pan.

4. Dot the zucchinis with 1/4 cup butter and add 2 cups water. Place a plate on top of the pot to keep the stuffed zucchinis from expanding too much and bursting and cook over medium heat.

5. When water starts boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cook until the zucchinis are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

6. Transfer to a serving platter and ladle the juice from the pot over the stuffed zucchinis. Serve warm.

A big thank you to Selda for this traditional Turkish recipe! For more cooking ideas like this one, visit Selda in Istanbul today.

Recipes from Istanbul: Selda’s Stuffed Zucchini