Zucchine Rotonde Ripiene di Macinato con Ajvar & Couscous
Round Zucchini Stuffed with Ground Meat, with Ajvar & Couscous
Yes, it's a pretty circular story, as you can see tonight folks! And I am not going to beat around the bush and just get right down to the details of how it came to be and how I put it together, this all-round wonderful little dish of mine. As usual- it was really easy to make!
There I was, at the end of the week, contemplating what was left in the fridge and what I wanted to do with it. There was some ground mixed pork and beef that I had been planning to make a burger with and a miniature round zucchini. The thought of having the zucchini as a side to a hamburger didn't really appeal to me... so then I thought, why not put the burger inside the zucchini!??!
So instead of making myself one decent-sized burger, I made 2 little meatballs and these were just the right size to stuff the zucchini with... lucky me! I made the meatballs out of ground meat along with finely chopped shallot, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, finely chopped mint and parsley, salt, pepper, cayenne and both caraway and fennel seeds- pretty delicious! And to make it a little tangier and more unusual, I also added a little grated orange zest...mmmm!
This is where I got creative! I halved the zucchini, scooped out the middle using a teaspoon and seasoned them on the inside with a little salt and pepper- just so that the zucchini itself would have a good flavor and not just be a bland receptacle for the meat. I pressed the meat in firmly and then set the zucchini into a small saucepan, so that they could not tip up on me. I then poured in about an inch of water, put on the lid and steamed them for 5 minutes- just to give the zucchini and the meat at the bottom of the filling a head-start.
Whilst this was going on, I prepared the Ajvar and the couscous .
Being as I was going to need the oven to bake the zucchini later, I turned on the broiler and roasted a couple or red pointed peppers and a leftover slice of aubergine until they began to char. Of course, I flipped them over so that they would get equally browned! Once they were done, I popped them into a plastic container, with the lid on, so that the outer layer of charred skin would steam and loosen so that it could be easily removed. Once it was removed and the seeds were also taken out, I put the pepper and aubergine into a blender with a little onion and garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne, sugar, vinegar and olive oil and whizzed it up into a pretty decent version of Ajvar!
For the couscous, I finely chopped a shallot, a handful of parsley, a little mint, seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg and poured over enough boiling water to cover it. I let it stand for 2-3 minutes until the water had been absorbed and then added a little lemon juice, some finely grated ginger and a little green Tabasco. I added a little sesame oil to the mix and then poured the couscous into a baking dish. I carefully set the half-cooked zucchini on top and baked them in the oven for 15 minutes at a moderate heat, followed by 2-3 minutes under the broiler... and when they came out, they were toasty, delicious and piping hot! A little Ajvar, a little parsley and a rather more interesting supper than a simple burger was ready to be served... and boy, was I ever eager to eat!