When I saw them at my greengrocer’s, so round and orange, so beauuutiful… I could not leave them there, poor things. They were looking at me with their little zucchini eyes and what can I say? I had to find something to do with them. It was not difficult, the inspiration came to me from one of my favorite books, by Basque Michelin-starred chef Martin Berasategui. So I thought that stuffing them with cod ajoarriero was a brilliant idea. Because a stuffing can’t get much more delicious than cod ajoarriero, with its onion, red peppers and cod.
Ajoarriero is a classic dense dish prepared in northern Spain and, like all classic dishes, it has lots of variations, although most usually it carries garlic (of course, as the name suggests, as ajo means garlic), a kind of dried red peppers used for making chorizo called choriceros, tomatoes, cod and often potatoes. Berasategui’s ajoarriero doesn’t carry potato. My zucchini (or so they told me at my greengrocer’s, shame on them) were squash in disguise, so I had to add another zucchini, as the meat I got wasn’t enough.
- 2 round zucchini (1)
- 2 onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 8 tbsp virgin olive oil
- 300g salt cod (fresh cod will do too)
- 5 tsp pimiento choricero paste
- 7 tbsp good homemade tomato sauce
- 1 cayenne pepper
- Salt if needed (if using salt cod probably no salt will be needed)
- If using salt cod, desalt it leaving it at least to soak overnight, or as directed on the package.
- Open the zucchini and carefully empty them with a spoon. Then chop the meat and reserve.
- When the cod is desalted put the oil in a pan and fry the finely chopped onion. When half cooked incorporate the minced garlic. Fry the onion until wilted.
- Then add the rest of the ingredients, including the zucchini meat, and cook over low heat until the liquid is almost completely reduced, as long as it takes. When the cod is tender mash it a bit with a wooden spoon.
- Test for saltiness, as it will depend on how salty your cod ultimately was. Let cool a little.
- Fill the zucchini with the ajoarriero and get into a preheated oven at 175°C (fan) for 15-20 minutes, just enough for the zucchini to cook through.
If you’d rather not use the ajoarriero to stuff anything, just put it on a nice slice of country bread, and it will also be delicious.
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