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MIDDLE EASTERN LAMB-STUFFED ZUCCHINI WITH YOGURT SAUCE

4 6-ounce zucchini, scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon crumbled dried mint
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted lightly
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted lightly

Cut off and reserve the stem ends of the zucchini and with a zucchini
corer hollow out the zucchini, being careful not to pierce the
skins and leaving 1/4-inch-thick shells. Chop the zucchini flesh
and reserve it.

In a heavy skillet heat the oil over moderately high heat until it
is hot but not smoking and in it saute the lamb with the allspice,
the mint, salt and pepper to taste, stirring, until it is no longer
pink. Transfer the lamb with a slotted spoon to a sieve to drain,
pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet, and in
the skillet sauti the onion, stirring, until it is softened. Stir
in the garlic, the reserved zucchini flesh, and salt and pepper to
taste and sauti the mixture until it is golden. Remove the skillet
from the heat, stir in the lamb mixture, the pine nuts, and 2
tablespoons of the yogurt, and let the filling cool. Stuff the
zucchini with the filling and put the reserved stem ends back in
place over the cut ends, securing them with wooden picks. Arrange
the zucchini on a steamer rack set over simmering water, steam
them, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are tender, and
let them cool slightly.

In the top of a double-boiler set over simmering water whisk together
the remaining yogurt and the cornstarch mixture, stirred, cook the
sauce, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until it is thickened, and let
it cool slightly. Cut the zucchini crosswise into 1-inch rounds,
arrange the rounds on a platter, and spoon a dollop of the sauce
onto each round. Sprinkle the zucchini rounds with the sesame seeds
and serve them at room temperature.

Makes about 24 hors d'oeuvres

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