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Syrian Stuffed Squash

Chef Avram was inspired to create this gorgeous recipe after being inspired by the hashu, or meat filling recipe, in Poopa Dweck’s book Aromas of Allepo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews. The stuffed squash, filled generously with meat and dried apricots,  makes a delicious and hearty side dish for a Shabbat or Purim seudah meal. For a weeknight, it can be a main course.

Ingredients:

8 medium baby eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, medium, cored
1 lb Hashu (meat filling) (recipe follows)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup Mediterranean apricots, dried
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 tbsp Lemon juice, fresh squeezed
3 tbsp Tamarind concentrate (or substitute 2 additional tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp raspberry vinegar and 1 tbsp brown sugar)
1 tbsp sugar

For Hashu filling:

1 lb ground veal or lamb
1/3 cup white rice, raw
1 tsp allspice, ground
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
3/4 cup pine nuts
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Kosher salt

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine Hashu ingredients and mix well.  Stuff the cored zucchini with the Hashu filling.

2. Pour the oil into a large ovenproof sauce pan. Arrange the stuffed squash inside the saucepan and layer half of the apricots on top.

3. Place the saucepan on the stovetop over medium low heat until the squash start to release their juices.

4. Add the remaining apricots and sprinkle lightly with salt. Mix lemon juice, tamarind paste and sugar. Add to the apricots by sprinkling mixture on the top. Pour 1 cup of water over the apricots and cover tightly.

5. Gently simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Then place into a preheated 350° oven for 30 more minutes. Remove cover and return to the oven for 15 more minutes. Serve immediately.

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