Stuffed Vegetable Shashlyks, Eggplant and Zucchini Caviar

So you spent your summer preparing exotic shashlyks on the mangal. Making a döner kebab holds no secrets for you anymore. You’ve mastered the art of the lyulya-kebab, whether with meat or potatoes. And now you’re wondering: what else could you possibly put on a skewer to further defy gravity? How about stuffed vegetables, skewered transversely with their stuffing hanging dangerously over the hot coals?

This is more than just a dare, of course — it also makes for a delicious kebab! The idea again comes from Stalik Khankishiev, who briefly mentions it in Bazar, Kazan i Dastarkhan without giving an exact recipe. Thanks to yours truly, you’ll now have exact proportions and instructions, and you don’t even need to learn Russian.

Stuffed Vegetable Shashlyk

To avoid wasting half of the vegetables, I’m using the trimmings to make an eggplant and zucchini caviar. I’ve already posted different recipes for eggplant caviar here and here. Today’s version is similar to the latter, only with zucchini instead of onion, and it’s faster to make. I should probably write a post specifically about eggplant caviar some day…

A few tips before getting started. When carving the flesh out of the vegetables, try to get as much of it as possible so that you don’t end up with only a tiny amount of meat stuffing. Do not use very wide bell peppers or giant eggplants — the meat will fall out onto the coals. Finally, if you have some extra meat mixture left, it works great for lyulya-kebabs too.

Stuffed Vegetable Shashlyk

Lamb stuffing
Yields 4 servings

160 g sliced leeks, white part only
15 g olive oil
400 g cleaned lamb shoulder
400 g cleaned lamb breast
9.5 g salt
0.5 g black pepper, ground
32 g breadcrumbs
8 g basil, chopped
6 g mint, chopped

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the leaks in the olive oil until soft. Let cool.
  • Cut the lamb shoulder and lamb breast into small cubes, then toss in a bowl with the salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and leeks.
  • Pass the meat through the large die of a meat grinder.
  • Divide the mixture in half. Mix one half with the basil, and the other half with the mint. Grind each mixture again using a small die. Cover and refrigerate.

Stuffed Vegetable Shashlyk

Stuffed vegetable shashlyks
Yields 4 servings

4 sweet peppers, about 120 g each, of elongated shape (such as Cubanelle peppers, not the typical wide bell pepper)
4 baby eggplants, about 170 g each (preferably varieties with softer skin such as neon eggplants)
2 medium zucchini, about 200 g each
salt
lamb stuffings (basil and mint)

  • Cut off the tops of the peppers, and remove the seeds and membrane. If necessary, cut the bottoms until each piece is about 6-7 cm tall.
  • Cut off the tops and bottoms of the eggplants to get pieces about 6-7 cm tall. Carve out the flesh from the center of each eggplant using a pairing knife. Reserve the trimmings.
  • Cut off the tops and bottoms of the zucchini, and cut each one in half to get a total of four pieces about 6-7 cm tall. Carve out the flesh using a pairing knife. Reserve the trimmings.
  • Blanch each kind of vegetable separately in boiling water until tender: about 4 minutes for the peppers, 3 minutes for the eggplants, and 4 minutes for the zucchini. Shock in ice water.
  • Pat dry each vegetable, season the insides with salt, and fill with basil or mint lamb stuffing, packing the meat as much as possible without braking the vegetables.
  • Place the vegetables on wide skewers transversely (see pictures). Try to skewer together vegetables that are approximately the same size.
  • Make a wood charcoal fire, and wait until the flames have died (see here).
  • Grill the stuffed vegetables meat side down, then flip when the stuffing starts browning. Keep turning the skewers regularly to cook each side more or less equally. Once in a while, let them rest on the side for a few minutes before returning them to the grill. In particular, remove the skewers from the grill if the dripping grease catches fire.
  • Cook until the internal temperature reaches 140 F. Let rest for a couple minutes, then serve.

Stuffed Vegetable Shashlyk

Eggplant and zuccini caviar
Yields about 4 servings

400 g vegetable (zucchini and eggplant) trimmings, cut into small dice
45 g olive oil
3.5 g salt
0.8 g ground star anise
1.2 g Urfa pepper
0.8 g ground cumin
0.8 g ground coriander
160 g tomato concassé

  • In a saucepan over high heat, sauté the vegetable trimmings in olive oil. Season with salt, and cook until golden brown. Cover with a lid, then cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the pieces start breaking apart.
  • Add the anise, pepper, cumin, and coriander, and cook for a couple minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, and add the tomato concassé. Serve warm.

Stuffed Vegetable Shashlyk