Monday, May 14, 2007

Go Fish (In The Zucchini)

So there are those cookbooks with the decent covers, thick binding, and loads of hype. I find those a bit harder to pick up. I need a pretty picture on the cover. Something that makes me go ooh! I want to make that! It's no wonder why I end up buying so many magazines. There's just something about the glossy covers that attracts me. So I usually end up cooking from magazines. I buy magazines and borrow books. That's how it works.

While I may frequently check out cookbooks from the library, it is rare that I, shocking as it may be, actually cook from them. So what's amazing is that not only have I checked this book out (okay, this is my second time checking it out) and flipped through it, I've also made a recipe from it. Or made a somewhat less decadent version of a recipe in it.

I didn't want to make allioli from scratch, and I didn't want to just mix mayonnaise with lemon juice and call it allioli because that's just as much worth without all the benefits. So I bought aïoli. Not my brightest idea. But other than some strong masking of other flavors by the mustard in the aïoli, it turned out well. I'll just actually make allioli next time.

Calabacines Rellenos de Atun (Zucchini "Boats" Stuffed with Tuna)
adapted from The New Spanish Table by Anyavon Bremzen page 392
Makes 6 "boats" (or 12 appetizers or dinner for 2 people for with a salad)

2 medium-size ripe tomatoes, quartered and seeded
extra-virgin olive oil, to brush the tomatoes with
3 medium-large zucchini, stemmed and cut in half lengthwise
kosher salt
6 ounces canned tuna
3 Tablespoons store-bought aïoli (or, even better, make allioli), plus more to serve
4 Tablespoons breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Arrange tomatoes on greased or lined baking sheet, brush them with olive oil, and bake until soft and beginning to blister, about 25 -30 minutes.

While baking, prepare a large steamer tray over boiling water. Using a melon baller (or he recommended a small knife or grapefruit spoon), scoop out pulp of zucchini and discard or save for later use, leaving sides and bottoms just a bit more than 1/8" thick. Steam the zucchini in the steamer until just softened, 3-4 minutes. (Don't overcook or they start to fall apart. If your zucchinis are smaller, check sooner.) When the zucchini is cool enough to handle, blot dry and sprinkle insides with a little salt.

To make the filling, slide off the skin and chop the tomatoes when they are cook enough to touch. Place tuna, chopped tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons of theaïoli in a mixing bowl and mix. Set zucchini on baking sheet. Fill the zucchini shells with the tuna mixture. Spread the top of each with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining allioli and sprinkle about 3/4 teaspoon breadcrumbs over each of them.
Bake for about 7 minutes, and then broil for 1-2 minutes or until tops are browned.
Serve hot or let cool; either way is tasty.

Note: It's really easy to overcook the zucchini. It makes them flimsy. I'm almost considering trying it with raw zucchini sometime because the second time I made them I didn't pay nearly enough attention and steamed the zucchini for too long.

Fresh chopped basil is a nice addition to the tuna mixture if you have some around.

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