• Dolma or stuffed vegetables reminds Samah of her cultural roots. (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson
It looks sensational on the table, is simple enough to do, and instantly ups your kitchen cred.
4 Aug 2014 - 2:25 PM  UPDATED 28 Aug 2020 - 5:15 PM

--- Watch Ainsley's Mediterranean Cookbook, 8.30pm Sundays on SBS Food or stream it on SBS On Demand ---


Yes, filling one ingredient inside another is where it's at. 

Flex your mussels, roll your vine leaves and fill your zucchini flowers and dumplings. Here are our picks from a growing collection we like to call, "stuffed". 

1. Put a little mussel into it

Never again feel the bitter pang of picking up a hollow shell. These aromatic rice-stuffed mussels are filled to the brim with a fresh mix of cracked rice, pine nuts, tomato, mint and raisins.

2. Batter up!

The Moorish influence on Spanish cuisine comes to life in these roasted peppers stuffed with pork and almond. The banana or bullhorn chillies are charred, stuffed and battered before frying.

3. Through the Greek vine

No Greek tasting platter is complete without some dolmades. This is a vegetarian delight, however you can use pork, beef or lamb if you want a meaty starter. Serve it with some tzatziki and get your dip on.

4. Take your cues from tradition

This Croatian recipe for pork-stuffed sauerkraut rolls is tangy, delicate, rich and best made a day ahead, so the flavours are fully realised. Via Feast magazine

5. Hug it in

The simplicity and deliciousness of rice stuffed leaves is taken to a new level with this recipe. Squeeze the parcel gently once rolling so it stays intact when its cooked and you'll want to serve them immediately. 

Silverbeet rolls (mahshi selek)

6. Make enough to go 'round

In the hills of central Le Marche in Italy, these deep-fried stuffed olives are sold in paper cones on the street. Via Feast magazine

Olive ascolane is a popular wedding food in Italy.

7. Can you say, "Ssssmokin'?"

These haloumi, mint and preserved lemon cigars cook pretty well on a barbecue hotplate. Serve with lemon wedges and get 'em while they're piping.

8. Be the crunch master

A non-negotiable party food, these pan-fried stuffed green chillies are filled with pork, tofu and a dash of sake, and quickly fried after a frollick in egg wash.

9. Rocking to a dumpling beet

This magnificent dumpling celebrates all the bounty of the earth and if you've got a crowd coming over then these spinach and silverbeet dumplings are the ideal entertaining food. 

Silverbeet and spinach dumplings

10. Charcoal and chill-i

Fresh poblano chilli grilled over charcoal, peeled and stuffed with cheese, dipped in light frothy egg batter, fried and served with a deeply satisfying tomato, onion and chilli sauce - what a cheesy winner of a dish.

Stuffed poblano chillies (chiles rellenos)

11. Carve it up like a pro

Lamb stuffed with lemon, pine nuts and caperberries will feed more than a few, so call in the troops. Via Feast magazine

12. Do not underestimate the eggplant

Here's an eggplant stuffed with beef dish from Turkish Meze that's going to change your weeknight dinner rotation. Serve with garlic yoghurt and Turkish bread.

13. Make a rainbow connection

Muffaletta is a classic New Orleans layered sandwich, or so says the Internet. The true origin is Sicilian, though, and is nowadays the most colourful picnic idea since tartan rugs.

The sandwich that doubles as a birthday cake.

14. Opt for a backyard affair

This beef stuffed with capsicum and blue cheese (matambre) is sewn together like a parcel and grilled over fire or coals. Via Feast magazine

15. It doesn't have to be a grain in the backside

Stuff a little protein into your carbohydrates and make it a one-pot pilaf, Mediterranean style - like Ainsley Harriott would. 

16. Succumb to all things sweet

Stuffed pancakes with walnut filling and rosewater syrup is a surprise addition, but one bite in and you'd not refuse another. Via Feast magazine

17. Exercise your inner croq-star

Squid croquettes are a wonderful technique to master. (Definitely a case where deliciousness outranks appearance.) Via Feast magazine

18. Go on, make a stuffin' spectacle!

Feast magazine's stuffed eggplant features cinnamon, burghul and biber salcasi (pepper paste). It's both a centrepiece and a masterpiece.

19. Luke Nguyen's fishy pick

Various recipes for stuffed sardines can be found along the stretch of Ligurian Sea coast between France and Italy. For the fullest flavour, use super-fresh sardines. Watch how it's made

20. Be gentle with the flora

This wholesome Greek dish of stuffed zucchini flowers boasts a filling of rice, tomato, dill and mint. Listen to the podcast that breaks down this glorious recipe.

21. Try something new

If you only cook one recipe from this collection, let it be this one – stuffed zucchini cooked in yoghurt. While you're at it, check out our 10 ways with yoghurt. Via Feast magazine

22. Embrace vegetarianism

Our vego capsicums are stuffed with rice, herbs and baharat. Return the tops after stuffing 'cause don't they look fancy?

Stuffed red capsicum.

23. Try your hand at hawker-style foods

These deep-fried tofu puffs are served with red hot chillies, plus black tea or beer to help tame the heat.

Stuff your tofu, batter up and fry them to golden perfection.

Want more? Sure. Check out our complete stuffed collection here.