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Dolma Qarâa wa Djelbenna | Stuffed Courgettes with Peas { HEALTHIER & GLUTEN-FREE }

Got an over abudance of courgettes this summer? These courgettes stuffed with rice, ground turkey, fresh herbs and cinnamon, this dish is a surefire summer hit!

بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
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Hey friends! Welcome September. Who’s enjoying the last remaining days of summer? And is waiting for Autumn to arrive? Back to school is just around the corner. Lots of my friends in the North (Europe and Americas) were already experiencing the beautiful Autumn colors in August. We here in Algeria are still sweating in the Algerian heatwaves. The weather hasn't changed much since I came back from Hungary. I'm kinda craving those dark and rainy days. Sleeping in, carbs, sugar and chocolate cravings ... slow cooked tadjines, chunky stews, pumpkin pie, gingerbread.

Until then, I'll just have to somehow survive this heat.

But there are some many good things about the weather here. One being that we get to enjoy summer's bounty. Like courgettes for instance. Courgettes (or zuchinni) are a REAL Algerian vegetable. Present in almost every Algerian dish from Couscous, to Rechta, Chourba to Dolma. They overtake Algerian gardens and markets. It's easy to come back from the market with monster sized bags of of these babies for next to nothing. They one of the lowest calorie foods out there, a mere 17 calories per 100g yet pack are a nutritional powerhouse. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers. It is a very good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamine C, folates, carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin. And also have moderate levels of iron, thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. Yeah, so you know my kitchen is always brimming with courgettes. 

They're great as fritters, in quickbreads, muffins, stuffed, broiled, sauteéd, grated or puree into pancakes, made into dips or tapenades or even raw in salads.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy courgettes are stuffed. Algerian stuffed Dolma that is. What is Dolma you ask? Dolma comes from the Turkish word  dolması which means stuffed. It's a universal term for any vegetable that's hallowed out and stuffed. Usually a mixture of ground meat, sometimes rice, frik, bread or other vegetables are used. I've shared the traditional Dolma Qarâa   that uses potatoes, courgettes and is cooked with chickpeas. Today, I'm going to change it up a little bit by presenting MY favorite dolma that uses rice instead of my late MIL's breadcrumbs, peas and is sans el-akda, the lemon and egg thickener.

Healthy changes: By replacing the usual ground beef with lean ground turkey I've lower the lower saturated fat and calories making this more heart healthy. Also by replacing the chickpeas with green peas I've reduced the calories, lower the carb and fat content and upper the protein by 2.5grams. Peas are really little powerhouses of nutrition. Peas have anti-aging and anti-cancer properties, as well as high levels of anti-oxidants and vitamins zinc, Vitamin A, E and C. These vitamins can help fight against wrinkles, alzheimer’s, arthritis, bronchitis, osteoporosis and candida, high blood pressure and bad cholesterol. 
 Just one cup of peas contain 44% of your Vitamin K which helps to anchor calcium inside the bones. It’s B vitamins also help to prevent osteoporosis. And peas are also enviromentally friendly. Peas work with bacteria in the soil to ‘fix’ nitrogen from the air and deposit it in the soil. This reduces the need for artificial fertilizers since one of their main ingredients is nitrogen. After peas have been harvested the remaining plant easily breaks down to create more organic fertilizer for the soil.

And finally by replacing the breadcrumbs with rice, this dish becomes gluten - free. To be Paleo or Primal friendly, simplly omit the rice and make all meat filling and meatballs.

Don't like courgettes? No worries. You can easily use another vegetable to stuff, for example potatoes, summer squash, pumpkin, onions, aubergines, tomatoes, cardons or even make celery bundles.

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One year ago: Khoubz Zeitoun
Two years ago: Agua Fresca
Dolma Qarâa wa Djelbenna  }

 algerian stuffed courgettes with fresh herbs and peas 

 gluten-free, low fat, heart healthy


STOVE,  vegetable corer, MIXING BOWL, wooden SPOON, heavy 


  • 500g - 1lb ground turkey (optionally use beef)
  • 50g - ¼ cup of rice, dry uncooked
  • handful of chopped parsely
  • 1 medium egg
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon 
  • salt, to taste


  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • ¾ - 1 tsp black pepper 
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 bunch (about ½ cup) chopped fresh parsely
  • 1 bunch (about ½ cup) chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
  • 500g - 1lb courgettes/zuchinni, hallowed out
  • 150g - ½ cup  sweet green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 TBS oil (I use light olive oil)
  • 1 half of a lemon (to taste)

    CLEAN and clean the courgettes. Chop the stem ends off the courgettes. Cut them into 3 or 4 chunks depending on their size. Using a spoon or vegetabler corer hallow out the courgettes. Chop the 'debris' from the hallowed out courgettes. Chop it finely or as chunky as you want.

    NOW start preparing the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, rice, egg, herbs, salt and spices. Fill the courgettes loosely with the mixture. Roll the remaining, if any into your desired size of meatballs. I have small children so I like to make small walnuts sized meatballs. 

    HEAT the oil in the pan, sauteé the onion until golden. Add the spices and stir. Now add meatballs to brown. Remove the meatballs after browning and set aside.

    PLACE the stuffed courgettes in the pot. Add enough water to cover the courgettes ¾
     of the way up. Turn up the fire to high, bringing up the temperture. Once boiling, reduce to a slow simmer and cover with lid. Once the courgettes are al-dents add back the meatballs and half the chopped fresh herbs into the pot to cook. Once tender, you'll most likely need to reduce the sauce, so remove the courgettes and meatballs. Then continue to cook the sauce until the sauce has reduced. Before serving add the freshly squeezed of the lemon and other half of the herbs into the pot. Be sure to add the lemon little bit at  a time, as it can make the dish overly sour. Each person has their own taste level. The lemon should only bring out the freshness of the dish, not make it sour.

    Ladle into wide rimmed stew bowls, with extra lemon on the side as garnish. And serve with your favorite warmed crusty bread.

    This dish can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. It's not advisable to freeze this dish as the courgettes will be overly soaky. 

    You can easily use other type of vegetables here such as aubergines/eggplant, potato, onion, squash, pumpkin, tomato, cardon, cabbage or even bundled celery. And optionally, if you don't like ground turkey use lean beef or veal instead.

    Paleo Friendly
    You can easily make this recipe Paleo by using omitting the rice in the stuffing. 

     CATEGORIES:  ALGERIAN savory, meat dishes, 


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      This dish goes great with some freshly baked Algerian olive bread or Algerian homestyle bread. Add a salad or plate of H'miss and you're good to go!  


        HOW DO YOU LIKE TO make your favorite algerian healthier? 

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        1. Salem aleykoum
          Thanks for sharing your delicious recipe, i like it!!!!
          Have a nice day!

        2. Aawrwb sis, at what point do you put the peas in the sauce? I can't find it in the recipe.. JazakAllahu khir

        3. LOVE this dish - saw it in my Pinterest feed today and knew *just* what to do with the surplus of qar'aa the man brought home. Didn't have the energy today to actually hollow them out and stuff them, so I just cut them in thirds, and added them to the sauce, and made plain meatballs (omitted the rice and egg). Also used smen/ghee instead of oil and chicken broth instead of water to amp up the flavor, thyme/nutmeg instead of coriander/cinnamon, and added some peeled new potatoes as there's a surplus of those too masha'Allah. I like the idea of adding fresh coriander tho, will have to try it that way next time insha'Allah!


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