Sunday, 25 December 2011

Involtini de Zucchini - tasty starter

What a mouthful of Mediterranean flavour and succulent texture. The soft succulent texture of the zucchini and eggplant just melt in your mouth. The creamy and soft texture of the pumpkin is
sweet and flavoursome. Then the sun-dried tomato adds a chewy texture and the rich full flavour of the sun, concentrated into the reddy flesh of the tomato. These morsels are delicious and easy to make. They make a great starter to any meal or a wonderful canape at a party. Try and find anyone who does fall in love with these, I bet you can't!

Makes = 12
6 small to medium zucchini, cut into long lengths – approximately 3mm thick
4-5 small to medium in size, eggplant (not too fat), cut into long lengths – approximately 3mm thick
12 sun-dried tomatoes, cut in half, length-ways
24 spears asparagus (or green beans) lightly blanched
1/4 medium pumpkin, cut into 2 inch strip (12 pieces), roasted
olive oil for roasting & char-grilling
good salt
rosemary, remove the 'leaf' for roasting with and keep the twig as a tooth pick

Place the pumpkin in the oven at 190-200C, oil, salt and scatter with rosemary sprigs. Bake until golden, roughly  15-20 minutes.

Brush the zucchini and eggplant on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Heat char grill pan until hot, then place zucchini strips across the grill all in the same direction (with the char grill stripes going horizontally across zucchini). Allow to zucchini to cook half way and to form the black char stripes. Lift and peek to ensure stripes are a good strong colour, then turn. Gently press down and leave to form strips on the other side. Remove once cooked.

Tip: You don't want the zucchini to be too cooked as it falls apart when you roll it up but you don't want it raw either. You need it to be soft and yet succulent and malleable.

Do the same with the eggplant. You definitely want to eggplant to be cook, there is nothing worse than raw, uncooked eggplant.

Lightly blanch the asparagus in water until it goes bright green and still has a crunch in it but also a little softness. Al dente!

Take one of the zucchini strips and line it with the eggplant, then the pumpkin and finally the asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes. Roll it up tightly but also gently. Trim the asparagus to poke out of the centre of the involtini, not too tall. Spear gently with a sprig of rosemary twig. Saves on toothpicks, often rainforest or sustainably sourced. No tree died in the making of this!

Place on a platter or on individual entree plate and chill. Serve with Macadamia and herb pesto oil.

Macadamia Pesto Oil
1 fat healthy bunch Basil (or Parsley and Mint)
1/2 cup Macadamia nuts
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp good salt

Blend olive oil, herbs and salt in a blender until smooth. Then add the macadamia nuts (or any other nut) and blend to desired consistency. Sometimes it's nice to have a little texture and slight chunkier nut other times it's nice to have a smooth oil texture. Serve on the side.

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