Kiku is a Persian or Arabic dish that has many variations. This is a great recipe to serve as a side dish or even as a main entree. The portions below serve approximately six adults.
3 medium zucchini, cut into julienne or grated
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (keep two salt measurements separate)
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (commercially available ground pepper may be substituted)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
1 cup grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 heavy skillet (cast iron is best)
large mixing bowl
9x13 inch casserole baking dish
Preparation: Using 1 tablespoon sea salt, salt cut zucchini; place salted zucchini slices into a colander and drain for 30-45 minutes; rinse and squeeze dry in a clean dish towel.
Kiku Instructions: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Using a heavy skillet (cast iron is best), saute zucchini for about 1 minute in extra virgin olive oil. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon and mash up with a potato masher. Saute the onions and garlic until golden and add to zucchini. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat eggs with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, ground pepper, lemon juice and saffron mixture. Stir zucchini and onion mixture into mixing bowl, combining with eggs, salt, pepper, lemon juice and saffron. Pour fully combined ingredients into a well-oiled (olive oil is best) 9 inch by 13 inch pyrex (or other brand glass baking dish) pan. Just before placing in oven, sprinkle top of kiku with 1 cup grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Bake about 30 minutes at 375 degrees or until top is browned. Cut into squares and serve.
Eggplant Kiku Variation: omit zucchini and use 2 large eggplants, about 2 pounds total, peeled and cut int 1/2 inch squares. Mix eggplant squares with sea salt and leave in a colander to drain for about 1 hour. Rinse well and pat dry. Mix with sauteed onions and proceed with recipe except omit cheese or substitute for a hard white cheese, such as Parmesan or Romano.
Spinach/Herb Kiku Variation: omit zucchini and use 2 cups cooked, chopped spinach, squeezed dry and mixed with one bunch chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon chopped dill and 2 tablespoons chopped chives. Mix with sauteed onions and proceed with recipe except omit saffron and use 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.
Recipe inspiration from Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon, pages 440-41.