Sunday, 19 February 2012

Inside Job

Zucchina Rotonda "Sorpresa" - con Ripieno di Couscous e Sugo di Pomodoro
Round Zucchini "Surprise" with Couscous Filling and Tomato Sugo

I felt like having a little fun this evening and creating something a little cool and different. I love the little round zucchini's- they have a much better and more intense flavor that the regular ones and I always find them to be so cool-looking when I see them on the market.
Still- the sad truth is, that once they have been sliced or diced, they either end up looking like regular zucchini on your plate, or somehow kind-of awkward...

So I thought up this here method of cooking and presenting them, that just might make you smile, but that hopefully will make you enjoy these little flavor bombs a little more!

The idea is so simple it is practically embarrassing- I simply hollowed the Zucchini out from below, rather than cutting off the top as one normally would. So you have no idea that it is hollowed out and stuffed when you first see it.

To hollow out the zucchini, you will need one of those gadgets that are used for scooping 
out melon- like a miniature ice-cream scoop.  Make one central scoop into the bottom of the zucchini and then continue removing scoops from there. Take your time and do it carefully and you will get a nice result... it is easier than you may think.

For the couscous, I added a few threads of saffron and a little grated ginger to it and then poured boiling chicken broth onto it- just enough to cover it. I then left it to absorb the hot liquid and to fluff up slightly. I added salt, pepper and a little nutmeg, stirred it well and filled it into the hollowed out zucchini. I seasoned the inside of the zucchini with a little salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Being as I had removed most of the interior of the zucchini, it only required 7-8 minutes of steaming for it to cook... but that gave me more than enough time to whip together a nice fruity tomato sugo.

I used diced, canned tomatoes, which have much more flavor than fresh, as well as being a lot easier! I began by frying some finely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil and then deglazing with the chopped tomatoes and a little white wine. I cranked up the heat to reduce the sauce down a little and seasoned it with a little cayenne, parsley, oregano, basil and a tiny hint of cinnamon. I allowed it to simmer until I was ready to serve the zucchini, which was tender and good to go after 7-8 minutes. If you overcook it- you will find that it will collapse in on itself!

Set the zucchini on the plate first and then spoon the sauce carefully around the outside- this is a little fiddly but definitely looks nicer done this way.

Of course you guests will not know that they have anything more than a simple zucchini on their plates until they cut into them- which is cool enough... but the combination of tomato, zucchini and couscous goes SO well together! And served up like this... well- what's not to like!?

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