I dearly wish I had an excess of courgettes (zucchini, my American friends, zucchini). I wish I had an excess of anything for that matter. Unfortunately, the blimming snails ate my two courgette plants right down to a tiny stump of stalk. And the weather was so diabolical that I didn’t even get a flower on my tomatoes. This year, no greenhouse = no fruit.
Still, this is a post for my dear friend Ms Jones, because her mother has been plying her with courgettes for weeks. Yes indeed, I am happy to take requests (actually I’m just happy that anyone is actually reading this regularly enough to make a request!).
I can’t think of anything more wonderful than an excess of courgettes. They are on a par with broccoli and morning glory on my all-time favourite vegetable list. They are so versatile, so delicious. I never tire of them.
When I was a student in Florence, we used to slice them finely, sauté in olive oil until golden brown and toss them through pasta with a drizzle of panna (cream) and lashings of parmesan. Quick. Simple. Delicious.
Then there’s another of my favourite dishes, one I am currently eating no less (I’m writing this on my lunch break), which is courgette and paneer curry. This is one of the first recipes I ever uploaded to this blog. I admit, it’s not all that photogenic, but it tastes goooooood. You’ll love it Jonesy.
Of course, another courgette recipe already covered in these pages is courgette and polenta bake.
Then there’s the stunning courgette salad that my stepmother makes in the summer. I think it’s from Skye Gyngell’s A Year in my Kitchen. Simply shave raw courgettes into paper thin strips using the cheese slicer setting on a grater and dress with lashings of lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper, and herbs – tarragon is great with this but basil works too. Fantastic with barbecued meat.
But perhaps one of my favourite ways to eat courgettes is heavily inspired by Angela Hartnett’s stuffed marrow recipe. It’s great and versatile — I’ve made it for a one-year old girl (no salt and pepper), a vegetarian (no chorizo) and some big strapping lads and they all loved it.
4 large courgettes (perfect time of year for large courgettes – but tiny ones will work if you’re patient and capable of being delicate)
1 block feta cheese, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
Half a looped chorizo, diced (substitute for a finely chopped red pepper if catering for veggies)
2 slices bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs
Half a pack pinenuts
A small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
Olive oil (I like to use lemon oil or basil oil for this)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the courgettes in half, lengthways, then hollow out the centre by scooping out the insides. Chop the flesh finely and set aside. Rub oil into the courgette ‘boats’ inside and out and season generously, then line up on a baking tray ready to fill.
Fry the onions and chorizo chunks, add in the courgette centres, and sauté until softened. Remove from the heat, then stir in the pinenuts, parsley and half the feta. Fill the courgette boats with this mixture, then sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and remaining feta cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the courgette shell is soft and the topping crispy and brown.
Serve with a crisp green salad, hummus and crusty bread.
If you have a slice leftover, chop it all up and run it through some cous cous with a sprinkle of lemon juice. Delicious.