Zucchini “Boats” with Tuna and Roasted Tomatoes


The new spanish tableWhen I saw this recipe demonstrated at the Congreso Lo Mejor de la Gastronomía, a showcase for Spanish chefs held in San Sebastián, I instantly wanted to try it. Its creator is Mari Carmen Vélez, one of my favorite chefs in Spain, who cooks at the produce-driven La Sirena restaurant in Alicante. Uncomplicated and infinitely tasty, the dish features lightly steamed zucchini “boats” filled with a tuna and roasted tomato mixture that is then gratineed. Mari Carmen uses atún en salazón, the pungent salt-brined tuna so fundamental to the coastal cuisine of Alicante. While a good canned tuna lacks the atún’s pungent kick, it is still delicious when you add the oomph of allioli, the potent garlic mayonnaise. The tuna filling is also great on its own, spread on crusty grilled bread; feel free to add some chopped black olives to the stuffing mixture. Serve the zucchini as a tapa or a light luncheon dish.

  • Yield: 10 as a Tapa, 4 to 6 as a Light Luncheon Dish


  • 3 medium-size ripe tomatoes, quartered and seeded
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the tomatoes
  • 4 large zucchini (choose ones that are not too tapered), stemmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 12 ounces imported solid oil-packed tuna, or 2 cans (each 6 ounces) Bumble Bee tonno in oil, drained and flaked into bite-size chunks
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Allioli
  • ½ cup plain dry bread crumbs
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Arrange the tomatoes on a small baking sheet, brush them with olive oil, and bake until soft, about 35 minutes. Leave the oven on.
  3. While the tomatoes are baking, using a small knife or a grapefruit spoon, scoop out and discard the pulp of the zucchini, leaving shells that are just a little more than ⅛ inch thick. You will have 8 “boats.” Steam the zucchini in a wide steamer set over boiling water until just softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook. When the zucchini is cool enough to handle, blot it dry with paper towels and sprinkle the insides with salt.
  4. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off and coarsely chop the tomatoes. Place the tuna, chopped tomatoes, and about 2 tablespoons of the allioli in a mixing bowl and toss to mix. Fill the zucchini “boats” with the tuna mixture. Spread the top of each with 1 tablespoon of the remaining allioli and sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the bread crumbs on top of each. Set the stuffed zucchini on a baking sheet and bake until the tops are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cut each “boat” in half crosswise and serve warm or at room temperature.

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