Wednesday, August 15, 2007

using up summer's extra zucchini — another zippy appetizer

this is really more of a condiment than an full blown appetizer. called ajlouk in tunisian arabic, it is meant to be eaten in small amounts as it is usually quite spicy, though that can be adjusted to suit one's tastes. an ajlouk can also be made from other vegetables like carrots, roasted eggplant, baby potatoes, pumpkin (calabasa, dl'a'at) and squashes, etc. ajlouk is also called zaalouk by moroccans (and moroccan jews).

i first had a taste of it at my friend maurice's (family's) house while attending their sabbath celebration in israel and this is from his mother. coming from coastal north african tunisia where a once thriving and quite old jewish community prospered, most of these "tunes" now live in either france, israel or other parts of the world where french is spoken (their everyday language besides arabic). more information about this community here, here, here and here.

while not everyone enjoys the texture of zucchini which has been boiled, much is made up by the spicy paste which is added. it's worth a try :)

si vous désirez d'autres recettes tunisiennes, veuillez cliquer ici.

tunisian spicy zucchini appetizer (condiment)

served at mealtime, this condiment is eaten alongside bread or used to accent a plate of couscous. it has to sit for a few hours after making as the zucchini will absorb the flavours of the spices, lemon and oil. adjust the heat to your liking. serve at room temperature as it has little taste when cold.

makes approx. ¾ to 1 c depending on size of your zucchini.


1 large young zucchini* (no seeds)
¾ - 1 ½ tsp harissa paste,
or cayenne pepper (~ ¼ to ½ tsp +)
¼ tsp ground caraway seeds, heaped
¼ tsp caraway seeds, heaped
¼ tsp cumin seeds, heaped
¼ tsp ground coriander (seeds)
½ tsp smoked paprika (optional but v. good)
salt to taste

2 - 3 tbsp extra v olive oil
juice of ½ lemon juice, to taste only


black (moroccan type) olives
finely chopped cilantro or parsley

*make sure your zucchini is unblemished as you need the skin for this appetizer dish. if you're not sure if your zucchini isn't going to have seeds in it, cook it whole anyway. once cooked, cut it lengthwise and scoop out the hard seeds and continue with the recipe below.

*you can replace the zucchini with another cooked (mash-able) vegetable also if zucchini is not to your liking.


wash the zucchini very well. cut off the hard stem end of the zucchini and the small blossom end.

boil the zucchini in water.

cook it covered until a knife easily goes right through it. it may take up to 15 - 20 minutes.

keeping the zucchini water for soup broth or to use for cooking couscous, remove the zucchini itself and cut it in sections. let it cool completely.

with a fork or masher, crush up the zucchini well. it should be very coarse. you'll notice water and juice coming out. don't drain it — it will incorporate back into the final dish. set it aside.

in another bowl, mix together the spices.

add the harissa paste, the lemon and oil.

mix well together.

add the mashed zucchini to the spiced paste mixture and mix well.

let sit in fridge for a few hours to marinate. serve cool or at room temperature with bread or couscous.

taste and adjust seasonings. it will look sort of watery at first. once it marinates, the zucchini will absorb the flavours and it will thicken. (sorry for blurred bad pictures .... night time lighting).

if you like, you can add several chopped or whole capers and black olives (the salty, wrinkled type).



Richa said...

hey, that's one great way to use up these abundant zuchini!
btw, any inputs on restaurants(which serve veg) to visit in Toronto & Ontario, thot a foodie like u might hv some good suggestions :) any must see places u would recommend? Thanks a lot!

burekaboy — said...

hi richa - everywhere i look, i see zucchini; it's one of those vegetables that grow like crazy no matter where it's planted!

in terms of vegetarian & toronto, i can't tell you since i don't live in that province! LOL. i'm next door to ontario in quebec. actually, trupti mentioned some excellent (indian) places just outside toronto, in misissauga (not so far; not sure where you'll visit while there). i'm sure she could tell you a few places, her husband was just there -- you'll eat well as it's a gigantic city, very clean and very safe. (have a great trip, btw)!

check out:

-queen street (TONS of interesting shops and cafes)
-CN tower
-eaton's center (large shopping complex)
-harbourfront centre
-chinatown (huge! veg restos there)
-AGO (art gallery of ontario)
-kensington market & st. lawrence market
-allen gardens

etc, etc.

speak to ruth @ once upon a feast (in my links under cooking); she just moved from toronto and can tell you TONS of places to eat and visit. tell her i sent you for advice & don't be shy! LOL.

Richa said...

thank you for all the info, really appreciate it!
now that u've assured me i won't go hungry there, i'm really looking frwrd to it...LOL
will follow up on your leads for fellow bloggers....:)