Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Zucchini and caraway dip

Caraway and harissa are classic Tunisian seasonings and pair well with zucchini in an appetizer salad.  However, the classic way of preparing this dish is to boil and mash the zucchini which leads to the water problem. (See my earlier post in connection with a zucchini and tomato salad.)   While you are left with a lovely light green puree, you are also left with something of a soggy, bland mess that seems not to hold and highlight the spices.  The better alternative was to grate, salt and then saute the squash.  The water was eliminated and the flavors concentrated. (My theory is that many flavors are fat, rather than water soluble and that vegetables are almost always bettter sauteed than boiled or steamed.)
Here is a less refined, easier and spicier version of the salad.  Rather than salting the squash after grating and letting it drain, I found that you can just saute it a few minutes longer.  It eliminates a step, a lot of mess, makes the saltiness of the dish easier to control and really doesn't take much more cooking.  By sauteing the squash with garlic, harissa and ground caraway, you are left with an extremely tasty puree that is a welcome relief from the usual appetizer salads. This is a good way to use up some of those large zucchini clubs that people seem to accumulate in July and August, but it is even better made with tasty, small, tender squash. 

Zucchini and caraway dip

  • 2 pounds zucchini
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon harissa (preferably one with a good hit of garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  1. Wash the zucchini well.  Zucchini often has a lot of grit embedded in its skin, and the best way to deal with this is to soak it for about 15 minutes.  Then run it under cold water, and scrape away any parts which are still gritty.  If it is a hopeless case, just peel it, it won't hurt the dish too much.
  2. Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater.
  3. Heat the olive oil, reserving one teaspoon,  on medium high in a very large nonstick skillet and add the zucchini shreds.  Salt lightly.  
  4. Cook  on a high flame for about 15 minutes, until the squash is well-cooked and lightly browned.  You will be left with about 2 cups.
  5. Meanwhile, smash the garlic, peel it, and mash to a paste with some salt using the side and edge of a broad knife.
  6. Move the zucchini over to the size and add about a teaspoon more oil.  While stirring, add garlic and saute around 30 seconds, add the caraway for 30 seconds more,  then the harissa for 30 seconds more.  Then incorporate the seasonings into the cooked squash.
  7. Turn off the heat,
  8. Makes around 2 cups. Serve with crackers, bread or raw vegetables as an appetizer spread to 4-8 people, depending on what else is on the table.  It also makes a nice sandwich spread on whole grain bread and topped with pitted oil cured olives, sliced feta cheese and tomatoes.

No comments:

Post a Comment