Baked Harissa Zucchini With Whipped Feta And Couscous Recipe

Whether vegetarian food is your way of life or you're looking to enjoy more interesting vegetable-forward dishes, Tasting Table recipe developer Tanika Douglas has an excellent idea for you: Her baked harissa zucchini with whipped feta and couscous is every bit as satisfying as it sounds. "This dish celebrates the flavors of Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine, though the recipe is predominantly inspired by ingredients I love," she shares.

Zucchini can be fairly ordinary if you don't season it well, but Douglas has completely turned it around with a scoring, salting, pan-frying, and oven-roasting cooking method. "The thing I love most about this recipe is that the humble zucchini is the star of the show," she shares. If you're versed in the celeb chef world, you might recognize that "the method is roughly based on Thomas Keller's viral roasted zucchini, which is not only aesthetically pleasing but also turns a simple vegetable into something spectacular," Douglas says.

In addition to the zucchini, the bold ingredients and delightful taste in Douglas' recipe stand out. "The medley of flavors is so divine — there is the lemony, vibrant couscous; the salty, creamy whipped feta; and the caramelized, smoky, spiced zucchini," she details. "I simple can't get enough of this dish!"

Gather the ingredients for baked harissa zucchini with whipped feta and couscous

For this recipe, you'll need zucchini, sea salt, harissa, minced garlic cloves, pearl couscous, walnuts, and olive oil. Then, get some feta cheese and keep a bit of water handy. Roughly chop some fresh parsley and mint leaves, and set some aside for garnish. Juice and zest ½ a lemon, and use some sea salt and cracked black pepper as seasonings.

Score and marinate the zucchini

Preheat your oven to 360 F and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper. Next, slice each zucchini in half lengthwise, and use a paring knife to score the flesh in a ½-inch cross-hatch pattern. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the fleshy parts of the zucchinis, and set them aside for half an hour. This technique will let some of the water escape, preventing an undesirable mushy texture.

When the time is up, dry off the zucchini with a paper towel to get rid of the moisture and excess salt. Transfer the slices to a dish along with the harissa and minced garlic. Massage the marinade ingredients into the zucchini to properly coat the vegetables, then set them aside to soak up the flavors for 30 minutes.

Cook the couscous and toast the walnuts

Cook your couscous according to the package directions, then set it aside once it's done. Set another pan on the stove over medium heat and add the walnuts, toasting them for 5 minutes or so until they are golden brown and fragrant. Transfer them to a chopping board and roughly cut them up.

Pan-fry the zucchini

Now, place a pan over medium heat and drizzle in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place the zucchini in the pan flesh-side down, and pan-fry it for 3-5 minutes. You want the surface to be golden brown, a little charred, and wonderfully caramelized. Once the zucchini has taken on some color, transfer the slices flesh-side up to the lined baking tray. Cook it in the hot oven for 25-30 minutes until it is nice and tender and even more caramelized.

Whip the feta mixture

Add the feta and water to a food processor and blend the ingredients until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Set it aside until you're ready to assemble the dish. One time-saving tip: Douglas notes that this part of the dish can certainly be made in advance. "You could make it a few days prior, store it in an airtight container, and then use when ready," she says.

Assemble and serve this tasty dish

Return to your cooked couscous and mix in the chopped walnuts, parsley, mint, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Make sure the ingredients are well combined. Dollop some whipped feta onto each plate and spread it around with the spoon. Then, scoop some couscous on top and add 2 zucchini halves on top. Finish it off with a few more fresh mint and parsley leaves, and serve.

"I personally love this dish on its own, as it is so satisfying and full of flavor," Douglas comments. However, if you want an extra protein boost, she says, "The dish could definitely be served with a meat-based protein like roast chicken or slow-cooked lamb, or a plant-based protein like tofu!"

As for leftovers, Douglas suggests dividing them and "placing the zucchini and couscous into one storage container, and the whipped feta into another." Reheat the zucchini and couscous in the microwave, and enjoy the feta chilled. "Alternatively, this dish is wonderful served cold," Douglas adds.

Baked Harissa Zucchini With Whipped Feta And Couscous Recipe
5 from 43 ratings
Whether you're vegetarian or not, this dish is proof that the humble zucchini deserves main-course distinction.
Prep Time
Cook Time
harissa zucchini with couscous feta
Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • 4 zucchinis
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • ¾ cup harissa
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 ounces pearl couscous
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 14 ounces feta
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • ¼ cup mint, roughly chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • Zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 360 F and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  2. Slice the zucchinis down the center lengthwise, then score the flesh in a ½-inch cross-hatch pattern. Sprinkle the zucchinis with 1 teaspoon salt and leave to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Pat the zucchinis dry with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture and some of the salt.
  4. Place the zucchini in a dish and add the harissa and minced garlic, massaging the harissa into the zucchini until well coated. Set the mixture aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the pearl couscous according to package directions, then set aside.
  6. Toast the walnuts on the stovetop over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Transfer the walnuts to a cutting board and roughly chop.
  7. Place a pan over medium heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  8. Add the zucchini to the hot pan, cut side down, and pan-fry for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown, slightly charred, and caramelized. (Do this in batches if necessary.)
  9. Remove the zucchini from the pan and place it cut-side up onto the lined baking tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tender and further caramelized.
  10. Place the feta and water in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  11. To the couscous, add the chopped toasted walnuts, chopped parsley, chopped mint, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon zest and juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.
  12. To assemble the dish, place a large spoonful of whipped feta onto each plate and spread out with a spoon. Top each plate with a generous serving of pearl couscous, then finish with 2 halves of roasted zucchini per plate. Garnish with additional mint and parsley leaves, and serve.
Calories per Serving 898
Total Fat 55.9 g
Saturated Fat 17.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 88.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 73.1 g
Dietary Fiber 8.8 g
Total Sugars 7.2 g
Sodium 1,170.9 mg
Protein 31.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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