Do you like to grow your own vegetables? It's amazing what you can manage in even a very small space. I love picking my own produce and then cooking with it immediately. You just beat that for freshness, don't you think?
My friend Louise is so much of a gardening and cooking enthusiast, that in addition to her garden she also has an allotment. We've been trading; my rhubarb for her courgettes, as we both had gluts of each. She found this poem which sums it up perfectly!
Far from hiding from Louise, I've been loving cooking with her spare courgettes and if you're similarly getting stuck for ideas, here are a few dishes that I've made - all very easy and delicious.
This is lovely vibrant summer supper dish, served perfectly with a watercress or lamb's lettuce salad dressed simply with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
1 packet ready rolled puff pastry
1 courgette - I used a yellow skinned one, but green is pretty too
1 spring onion
125g cherry tomatoes
100g crème fraîche
small bunch of mint
100g Feta cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/ 200°C (fan)/ 425°F/ Gas 7
2. Peel lengths of courgette until you end up with a pile of courgette 'ribbons' Cut the cherry tomatoes in half Trim then finely slice the spring onion
2 3. Combine the mayonnaise with the crème fraîche and a pinch of salt – this is your creamy sauce
3 4. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper Unwrap the puff pastry and lay onto the lined baking tray Score a 1cm border around the edge of the pastry with a knife Tip: the border will puff up to give you a nice crust!
4 5. Spread the creamy sauce over the puff pastry within the border Top the creamy sauce with the courgette ribbons, chopped cherry tomatoes and sliced spring onion Crumble over the feta cheese Season with generous grind of black pepper
6. Put the tray in the oven and cook for 35-40 min or until the pastry is cooked through, puffed up and golden.
6 7. Meanwhile, strip the mint leaves from their stems and chop them roughly, and garnish your tart.
This makes a luxurious and rich side dish. We had this with a roast chicken. It's adapted from a Hairy Bikers recipe - I used double the amount of sauce mix.
2 tbsp olive oil
800g courgettes, sliced into rounds
few sprigs thyme
few basil leaves
200ml crème fraîche
1 tsp plain flour
75g gruyère or similar cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6
Put the olive oil in a large, lidded frying pan. Add the courgettes and herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring every so often, until the courgettes have softened slightly but are still al dente. The oil should have taken on a deep, rich green colour from the courgettes. (I was using yellow ones, so didn't have this happen)
Transfer to an oven dish. Whisk the crème fraîche, milk and flour together in a bowl and season with salt. Pour the mix over the courgettes.
Sprinkle over the cheese. Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, or until brown and bubbling.
We have lots of vegetarian friends, and a selection of Indian food is often our go-to solution for when entertaining them. I love this curry from Hari Ghotra as it freezes beautifully; the trick is to re-heat it before it's completely defrosted to avoid the courgettes going mushy.
1 tbsp rapeseed oil or other vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
400g tin plum tomatoes
1 tbsp of fresh ginger, grated
1-2 green chillies, chopped
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
Courgettes or marrow (approx 1-1.5kg)
1 tsp garam masala
handful fresh coriander
Heat oil and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Once they sizzle and become fragrant add the onions. Fry for about 6-7 minutes until they become translucent and just golden brown.
Add the garlic and cook on a gentle heat for a few minutes. In the meantime, wash and chop the courgettes/marrow into 3-4cm chunks. If your marrow is an older marrow then you may also need to peel it as the skin can be tough. You may also need to remove the seeds and soft central part of the marrow.
Add the tomatoes to the pan and stir in the grated ginger, chilli powder, turmeric, salt, and green chilli. Stir for a few minutes until the masala in thick and shiny.
Add the chopped courgettes/marrow and bring the pan to a simmer. Cover, then turn the heat to low and cook for about 20-30 minutes. Do check and stir occasionally.
When the courgettes/marrow have cooked to the texture you like, remove from the heat and add the garam masala and coriander to serve.
Grilled Provencal Vegetable Salad
Hidden under the vegetables is a Bulgar wheat salad making this a meal in itself. It'd alos be lovely as a side dish.
2 small courgettes, I used one yellow and one green
1 medium aubergine
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 tsp herbs de Provence
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Olive oil to drizzle
Balsamic vinegar pearls
Basil leaves, torn (I didn't have any!) to garnish
Cut all the vegetables into slices, and place altogether in a large bowl. I also lightly scored the courgettes and aubergine.
Stir the herbs, olive oil and seasoning together, pour over the vegetables and toss well to coat.
Heat a large griddle pan and griddle the vegetables in batches, turning halfway until they are tender and have acquired some colour from the griddle pan.
Arrange on a serving platter and drizzle over teh extra olive oil and scatter the balsamic pearls.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Do let me know what are your favorite courgette recipes, as I have a feeling that Louise will be popping by with more before the end of the summer!