Back in June, when I had not yet started my summer vacations and my boyfriend was already in Italy (I flew to him as soon as school was over), during one of our phone conversations my boyfriend mentioned the tuna stuffed zucchini he had had for lunch. When I have to cook for myself only I tend to get very monotonous and little creative, but when he mentioned tuna stuffed zucchini and I incidentally had one lonely zucchini sitting in the fridge I found the inspiration to cook for myself and not only feed on yoghurt and müsli.
Nothing against yoghurt and müsli, but a varied diet is always preferred – even when you are alone, uninspired and end-of-school-year-tired. “Tuna stuffed zucchini” was all the information I was given by my boyfriend; he had been served the dish and had no idea about the recipe. So I just improvised with what I had in the fridge and I came up with quite an interesting dinner. The following recipe is suitable for a medium zucchini (around 250-300 g) and will feed two.Tuna and feta stuffed zucchini:
- 1 medium zucchini
- 150 g canned tuna (drained)
- 1 small shallot
- 70 g feta cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs (+ some extra, optional)
- olive oil
Cut the zucchini in half lengthways and carve them using for example a spoon (or an ice cream scoop, which is what I used). Ideally you want to have the zucchini “shell” the same thickness all over, about a half cm, so carve accordingly. Mince the shallot and sautee it in a little olive oil. Chop the internal part of the zucchini in small pieces and add them to the frying onion. Sprinkle some salt and sautee the mixture until both the zucchini and the onion are soft.
Cut the feta in a small dice and add it to a bowl. Add the whole egg, the drained tuna, flaked, and the zucchini and onion mixture and mix everything with a fork. Add 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs to thicken the mixture. If you have put enough salt in the zucchini and onion fry, the combination of that and the feta should give this mixture the right taste in terms of salt, but one can always taste and adjust – this dish was an improvised one, after all, so anything could be changed in the making.
Sprinkle a pinch of salt in each of the carved zucchini and fill them with the tuna stuffing, distributing it evenly in both halves. They should be really packed with it, so fill them generously and fit all the mixture into the two “shells”. Optionally, some extra breadcrumbs can be sprinkled over the finished stuffed zucchini, to further absorb any liquids and give it a crunchy outer finish once baked. Bake in the preheated oven at 200°C for 35-40 minutes.When adding a category to this post I hovered over “vegetarian” for some time before ticking it. Technically there is fish, so this is not strictly a vegetarian dish. The truth is that this is not a fish dish either. Despite the key role that tuna plays for the taste it adds, I guess it can easily be substituted or subtracted altogether, maybe adding some more feta instead, and this dish would be 100% vegetarian then. But since the fish is a secondary ingredient and the main character here is the zucchini, I went for vegetarian. Any vegetarian cook out there will find an easy way to get around the tuna and will understand this decision, I’m sure.