Sunday, October 30, 2011

Baby Zucchini with Harissa, Olives and Feta

This is an adaptation of Gabrielle Hamilton's recipe (of Prune fame) called Tunisian zucchini with feta and olives which she created during her Iron Chef battle with Bobby Flay where the secret ingredient was zucchini.

Her recipe is published in the Canal House cookbook Vol 1 by her sister Melissa. I have adapted the same using baby zucchini. They are lightly steamed and dressed in a mixture of tangy lemon juice, fragrant olive oil and spicy harissa. Then they are tossed with some sharp kalamata olives and salty feta cheese. The combination is simply delicious. A non-zucchini loving person can also start to love zucchini if given this dish. It is one of the best zucchini dishes that I have ever eaten. I have mentioned the changes that I made to the original, in the recipe below.

Baby zucchini with harissa, olives and feta

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder (original recipe had caraway seeds or a combination of fennel and cumin seeds)
1 clove of garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon (original had 1 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon harissa paste (original recipe had 2 tablespoons harissa paste)
1 1/2 tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil (original had 6 tablespoons, plus a bit more for drizzling at the end)
8 oz baby zucchini, sliced down the middle lengthwise (original had 4 zucchini, sliced into thick rounds)
6 pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped (original had handful cured olives, a combination of oily and briny ones is nice, pitted)
1/3 cup crumbled feta (original had 1/2 cup coarsely crumbled feta)
Original had small handful parsley leaves, chopped (I skipped this)
Rind of a quarter of a preserved lemon, chopped (I skipped this)

  1. Mix the ground cumin, lemon juice, harissa, grated garlic, salt and olive oil in a serving bowl. Whisk to combine into a dressing.  
  2. Fit a vegetable steamer in a 10 inch pot with enough water so as not to touch the steamer. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil an inch water and bring to a boil. Remove the cover and place the zucchini on the steamer and cover and cook for 5 minutes till just tender. 
  3. Add the zucchini to the serving bowl and gently toss with the vinaigrette while they are still warm. 
  4. Add the crumbled feta and olives to the zucchini and mix lightly. Serve immediately with some warm crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
Serves 2 to 3

If you are in New York, my favorite brands of Harissa are from Taim and Le Pain Quotidien (this has many locations worldwide). 

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