Stuffed Zucchini

42 Comments

Many years ago I wrote the main food article of the food section for our local newspaper. My favorite articles to write were when I interviewed people who traveled the world to cook and eat.

One such woman I wrote about attended a cooking class with Lorenza dé Medici at her home, Badia a Coltibuono, an 11th Century monastery, estate, and winery, in Tuscany. (There is no longer a cooking school, just their wines and olive oils are sold from the website.)

If I remember correctly, she spent a quite a few days in the spacious kitchen learning Tuscan specialties, using ingredients purchased at the local market. What an experience.

In the evenings all of the attendees and the Signora enjoyed the prepared food and locally grown wine. And because of that experience, I was exposed to Lorenza dé Medici and her many cookbooks.

I’ve posted on one recipe by Lorenza dé Medici from her Antipasti cookbook – Crostini al Tonno – but this Stuffed Zucchini recipe is from The Villa Table, published in 1993.

This recipe was posted years ago, but I needed to re-do the photos!

Courgettes Stuffed with Ham
Zucchine Ripiene al Prosciutto

6 medium zucchini (I recommend only 3 medium)
3 eggs
5 tablespoons fine dry breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces cooked ham, chopped
Salt
Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Cut off and discard both ends of the zucchini. Using an apple corer, scoop out the pulp from the centers, leaving both ends intact, to make the hollow of the boat.

I also let the zucchini boats rest on paper towels to collect moisture.

In a bowl beat the eggs. Add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, butter, and chopped ham. Mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a small frying pan. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

Stuff the zucchini with the mixture. Pour the oil and 2 tablespoons of water into an ovenproof dish and arrange the zucchini in it.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

I sprinkled the stuffed zucchini with chopped Italian parsley and a little flaked salt.

Enjoy as a side, or as a meal!

And personally, I loved the white pepper instead of black!

Tuna Burgers

53 Comments

Tuna burgers aren’t quite as popular, in my opinion, as salmon burgers. It’s probably because salmon is more fatty and moist, so burgers made with prepared salmon are more apt to be moist and tender.

Tuna doesn’t have the richness of salmon, but it is delicate and flaky, and can definitely lend itself to a burger-type preparation.

So whenever I grill a large amount of tuna, I saved the leftover tuna for burgers.

The fun thing with tuna burgers is that so many approaches can be taken. Do you want Asian burgers? Easy! Do you want them Indian? Really easy! Mexican? Sure!

For these burgers, I decided on Mediterranean flavors.

Mediterranean-Inspired Tuna Burgers

Leftover grilled tuna, about 8 ounces, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
Roasted red bell peppers, diced
Kalamata olives, diced
2 shallots, minced
Chopped parsley
Sweet paprika
Salt
White pepper
Crumbled goat cheese
Bread crumbs, as necessary

Crumble or chop the tuna and place in a small bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth. Whisk in the mayonnaise. Add the bell peppers, olives, shallots, and parsley and gently stir. Season with the paprika, salt, and pepper.

Combine with the flaked tuna. Add goat cheese to taste.

Slowly add bread crumbs just until the mixture firms up. (See note.) Form four burgers, place them in a baking dish, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the burgers until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot.

I included a capered mayonnaise with these burgers, which I served without bread.

A good mustard or mustard-mayo mixture would be good, too. Or mayonnaise mixed with paprika creme.

I hope you can tell how tender the tuna burgers are.

Note: When I catered ladies’ lunches for one special client, she often asked me to make crab cakes. They weren’t that unique, but I do believe that they were popular because of their moistness. If you make crab cakes or tuna burgers meat-heavy instead of breadcrumb-heavy, they are a little harder to work with, but they will be tastier and much more enjoyable.

Tuna with a Vinaigrette

44 Comments

This recipe was inspired by a meal Stéphane made my daughter and I when we visited him in France last year. If you’re not yet familiar with this culinary wizard and photographer extraordinaire, check out his blog at My French Heaven, and his business website for his custom food and wine tours at Your French Heaven.

We only had four full days in our French heaven in April of 2014, but oh, they were four of the best days of my life. We visited chateaux and castles, walked the countryside, sampled Bordeaux wines, and ate lunches and dinners prepared and served by Stéphane himself. Can you imagine?!!! You don’t even have to lift a finger. Unless you want to.

Every morning the three of us visited farmers’ market in four different towns, and planned the daily meals then. One dinner created by Stéphane was based on a lovely sea bass he purchased on one of these mornings.

As you can see in the photos, Stéphane baked the fish in a salt crust. Then he prepared a simple, yet obviously unforgettable pine nut vinaigrette to go over it. And that is the reason I’m making the tuna today – just as an excuse to create a similar vinaigrette.

I didn’t pay attention to his exact recipe, and if I had I wouldn’t share it with you! But it’s one of those that can be altered to your personal taste in any case.*

I love sea bass and other white fish. However, if I had to choose my favorite fish, it would be tuna, with salmon as a close second. I think I like the stronger flavors of these, although there’s also nothing more fabulous than delicate white fish when it’s cooked perfectly. And Stéphane’s was perfection.

The ingredients of this vinaigrette are fairly basic, and not too subtle to pair with the tuna.

ahi77

As I typically do with recipes, I’m only listing the ingredients I used; the amounts are up to you.

ahi8

Tuna with a Pine Nut Vinaigrette

Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Capers, drained
Minced garlic
Toasted pine nuts
Chopped parsley

Ahi, thick steaks preferably
Olive oil

Begin by adding equal amounts of olive oil and vinegar to a small bowl. The overall amount depends on how many you’re serving but trust me when I tell you that this vinaigrette stores well in the refrigerator! Add a handful of drained capers.

Add the garlic, the pine nuts, and then the parsley. Stir well and set aside.

Meanwhile, sear your tuna steaks to your liking.

Serve the vinaigrette at room temperature.

I poured some over the tuna steaks, but also served extra on the side.

ahi3

It’s just that good!!!

* It’s obvious from the photos at the top that Stéphane used shallots instead of garlic, and dill instead of parsley. This just shows how versatile the vinaigrette is!!!