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Giacomo’s Fried Courgette Salad

24 Jun

Italian writer, Giacomo Castelvetro, set out to encourage the English to cook and appreciate vegetables in his book, A Brief Account of the Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables of Italy written in 1614. In it he describes all the produce of his beloved Italy as it comes into season and how best to prepare it. Almost 400 years on, his words are still an inspiration. For courgettes he recommends that young courgettes should be dipped in flour then fried in oil and served sprinkled with salt , pepper and agresto or verjus (the sour juice of unripe grapes) or lemon juice.
As we have an abundant and seemingly never ending crop of courgettes all through the summer and an  overcrowded grape vine it seems churlish not to take his advice. The result is delicious and works equally well with lemon, or lime juice which is easier to come by than unripe grapes.

  • 3-4 young courgettes
  • 25g white flour
  • crushed sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Verjuice or lemon juice

Slice the courgettes into thin rounds and drop into a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper then flour and toss to coat evenly. Shake off excess flour. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add a single layer of courgettes. Turn when the first side is browned and cook until the second side is brown. Drain on paper towels and continue in batches until all the courgettes are cooked. Arrange the courgettes in a serving bowl season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with verjuice or lemon and serve immediately.

Cook’s TIP If the courgettes are too dry the flour won’t stick to them. My dad used to make fried courgettes from the garden when i was a kid, by first dipping the slices in milk before flouring. This version has more of a light batter and is very delicious too.


Variation
Our grapes are not nearly big enough to make verjuice yet so i am using lemon juice which is a good alternative until the grapes are big enough. This year i’ll freeze the verjuice in ice cube trays for winter use.

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Courgette & Basil Soup

2 Jul
This is a lovely summer soup with plenty of flavour. I like to serve it with crispy garlic croutons for lunch. 
Serves 4 Cooking 25 minutes total prep & cook
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion (green onions or regular)
  • pinch salt and cracked black pepper
  • 3 medium sized or 5 small courgettes
  • 1litre of stock or water
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • large handful of fresh basil
  • Parmesan cheese
Mince the onion and fry in a little olive oil with the salt and pepper until the onion starts to colour. Meanwhile slice or cube the courgettes and add to the pan sauté slowly until the courgettes are starting to colour which brings out the flavour. Add the bay leaves if using and the stock. Stir well, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile make the croutons, cut stale bread into small cubes then bash up a couple of cloves of garlic and stir into some olive oil toss the bread cubes to coat and spread out on a tray sprinkle with salt and cook in a frying pan or under a hot grill for a few minutes until they get crunchy. Back to the soup, add the fresh basil roughly torn and about 2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese, remove from the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before liquidising. I don’t often purée soups but I think this one works best when it is smooth. Serve topped with crispy garlic croutons and a little sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Cook’s Tip I make large batches of vegetable stock and freeze it in clean 1L plastic bottles that you get juice or milk in.
For croutons use left over or stale bread. Home-made sour dough or wholemeal breads are the best; the better the bread the better the croutons will be. I sometimes use basil oil on the crutons to give another slightly different basil hit.
Gardeners Tip to avoid a glut of courgettes in summer pick them when they are small, not only do they taste better but the plant will carry on producing fruit for longer. Grow courgettes for flavour, there are so many hybrid courgette varieties available but really the old varieties have much better flavour such as the Italian striped var pictured.

Courgette Salad with Peanut Dressing

13 Oct

Simple yet stunning salad of ribbons of courgette with a tangy Thai style peanut dressing. Crisp fresh courgettes are a lovely vegetable to eat raw and dressed like this they make a wonderful exotic appetizer or side dish.

2-3 courgettes
Peanut Dressing
2 tbsp raw peanuts
juice of half a lime or lemon
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
coriander leaf
1 tbsp light soy sauce
pinch dried ground chilli

Use a vegetable peeler to cut ribbons from crisp fresh courgettes put into a bowl. Dry roast the peanuts and crush add the remaining ingredients and pound to a rough paste. Add the dressing to the bowl of courgettes and toss well to coat, done!
Gardeners note the courgette plants get a second wind when the rains come in September and October produce lovely courgettes until the first frost normally around mid November.

Pasta: Courgette Walnut Pesto

23 Sep
This knock out pasta dish is a great combination of walnuts, garlic and parsley with sweet fried courgettes. It is a perfect autumn dish when both parsley and walnuts are in season. I prefer to use Reginatte for this dish, thick wide ribbons with a wavy edges but you could use any kind of pasta.

Serves 2 Prep & Cook 12 mins

Boil the pasta in a roomy pan of hot salted water until cooked, I like mine with a little bite or al dente. Meanwhile slice the courgettes and fry in olive oil in a wide frying pan with high sides, a wok type pan always works well for this. Fry until they pick up a little colour season with salt and cracked pepper and when the pasta is cooked drain and throw into the pan, add the walnut pesto to taste toss well, sprinkle with lemon zest and serve with some grated parmesan.

This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.com on 24/1/2007.

Chayote Urid Dal

21 Sep

Chayote or vegetable pear cooked in a lentil broth flavoured with a spicy, coconut masala paste. The chayote works extremely well cooked in the dal so there is lots of scope for experimenting with other members of the cucurbit family and using summer squash or gourds and varying the spices or the types of lentils.

  • 1-2 Chayotes (green vegetable pear)
  • 1/2 cup urid dal (black lentils split, skinned, washed)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 large green chilli
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Masala paste

  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 10 dried curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp urid dal
  • 2 dried red chillis
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut or unsweetened desiccated coconut

Fry the masala ingredients in a little oil, set aside to cool and then blitz in a coffee grinder to a rough paste. If the chayote are young cut into bite size pieces but if the chayotes are older peel the skin off, as it can be quite stringy and tough, then cut onto pieces.

Put the dal and water in a pot, with the turmeric and sliced green chilli (use only half a chilli if you don’t want it to be too hot) cover and simmer until the lentils are nearly cooked about 45 mins. I like to leave the lentils with some shape but you can mash them to make a smoother dal. Add the pieces of chayote and a good pinch of salt and continue to simmer covered until the chayote is cooked, this takes about 10 minutes. Stir in the masala paste, turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 5 minutes or so before serving. Drizzle with a little home made chilli oil and serve with rice and a sweet chutney such as Sweet Bengali Tomato Chutney or Fig and Tamarind Chutney or any Indian pickles.

Recipe Sources
In India a dish like this would be called Chow chow kootu. I looked at several recipes for Chow Chow Kootu and ended up making the version above, which is a combination of two or three recipes I found.

see the discussion on this forum
see recipe on Indobase 

Cook’s Tip
Cooking small quantities of lentils like this is a waste of fuel for a single 2 serving dish so I tend to cook up larger batches and freeze in portions, which can be used to make dishes like this quickly. The Masala paste can be made in batches and will store for several months in an airtight jar.

Ratatouille

3 Sep

Ratatouille is served all over the south of France as the vegetable accompaniment to meat, fish or chicken dishes. It is also served on its own cold as a starter with fresh bread. Ratatouille is simply a stew of aubergines, peppers, courgettes, onions and tomatoes, all that grows abundantly here in the summer and autumn months. The secret to this dish is to cook it slowly in lots of olive oil. This recipe is for a fairly large quantity I made at the end of the season to freeze in 3 batches enough for meal for 2 or 4 as side portions.
Prep 25mins Cook 1 hour

  • 100ml olive oil
  • 400g onions, diced
  • 500g Aubergine, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 500g red, green and yellow peppers, diced
  • 350g courgettes, skinned and diced
  • 400g sieved tomatoes or passata
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh Thyme, tied together
  • 1 tsp salt

Prepare the aubergines first and put in a bowl with a tbsp of salt leave for at least an hour to degorge any bitter juices, then rinse and drain. (if the aubergines are not bitter skip this step). Fry the onions in the oil in a large heavy pan, when they have completely softened add the garlic fry for 1 minute. Then add the aubergines fry until softened then add the peppers and fry gently until the peppers have soften finally add the courgettes and sieved tomatoes or passata, salt and the thyme bundle. Cover and simmer gently with the lid on for half an hour to one hour until all the vegetables are melt in the mouth soft. Serve as a cold starter sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley or as it is warm.
3/9/2006:

Courgette & Coconut Pachadi

31 Jul

This freshly made Pachadi, or South Indian style relish, is absolutely fantastic and a real favourite of mine. It is a subtle blend of courgettes boiled with grated coconut and seasoned with coriander, chilli and lemon juice. Serve with Indian breads, rice and other vegetable dishes and a dal. A pachadi is usually freshly made for the meal but can also be kept for a few days before serving. You could use any squash for this recipe.

  • 200g or 1 medium sized yellow courgette 
  • 3 tbsp grated desiccated coconut 
  • 250 ml water 
  • 1 tbsp green coriander seeds 
  • Juice of one lemon or lime 
  • 1-2 hot green chillis, thinly sliced 
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt 
  • 2cm cube of fresh ginger 
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped 

Put the coconut, courgette, coriander seed and water in pan and bring to the boil quickly. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer slowly for 5-7 minutes until the courgettes are soft. Meanwhile bash up the garlic and ginger with the sea salt in a mortar and pestle to form a paste and slice the chillis. When the courgettes are cooked and have cooled down a little mash them with a potato masher to a rough puree and stir in the ginger + garlic paste along with the lemon juice, chillis and coriander leaves.

Recipe Source

This recipe originally came from  Food Down Under. I’ve used yellow courgettes and changed the recipe slightly by adding, my favourite spice, green coriander seeds and using lemon juice as the souring agent instead of tamarind, which I think spoils the colour of the pachadi particularly if using yellow courgettes.

Courgette Frittata

23 Jul

This is a kind of omelette and a delicious way of cooking courgettes, particularly the yellow ones. It makes a quick and easy lunch and an ideal picnic food.
Serves 4-6 Prep 7min Cook 20min

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 courgettes thinly sliced, yellow will be better
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs such as basil, tarragon, parsley or thyme
  • 4 eggs
  • crushed sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

Heat oil in a large non stick frying pan. Add onion and cook gently 3-4 mins until soft, add the garlic and courgettes stir well and cook until courgettes are softened and have a little colour, about 10mins. Beat eggs and stir in herbs, season and pour into the frying pan, stir well and continue to cook on a moderate heat until the underside is set. Sprinkle the top with parmesan. Heat the grill and place the pan under the grill to cook for a few more minutes until the omelette is set and the cheese is golden.

Source Necessity is the mother of invention and courgette gluts have inspired some pretty inventive dishes. Our neighbours find it hilarious that we grow so many courgettes they only have 2 plants and still the Jersey cow ends up eating half of them. I have cut down the 10 or more plants I grow to a more manageable 4 and harvest young.
23/7/2006

Courgette and Pasta Soup

3 Jul

A perfect summer soup making the most of crunchy young courgettes, which we have by the basket load, and fresh basil. The essential ingredient is freshly made pesto sauce. To this winning combination I normally add big pasta shapes to make a meal out of it.

Serves 4 Prep 7min Cook 10-15 min
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* pinch each of sea salt and cracked black pepper, or to taste
* 1 medium onion finely minced
* 3 garlic cloves, crushed
* 2 handfuls of large pasta shapes such as Conchiglie or Lumache
* 1 litre home-made stock
* 3-6 green courgettes (depending on the size) diced
* 1 large ripe tomatoe, cored and roughly chopped.
* Handful basil, shredded
* 3 tbsp home-made pesto sauce

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and gently fry the onion and garlic with the salt and pepper until soft, add stock and pasta, cover and simmer 8-15mins depending on the variety of pasta. 5 minutes before the pasta is cooked add the courgettes, tomato and half the shredded basil continue cooking until the pasta and courgettes are only just cooked. Remove from the heat stir in the pesto and remaining basil, check seasoning and serve immediately.

Cook’s TIP if not adding pasta use a little less stock e.g 750ml and if using fresh pasta add the courgettes at the same time or even before.

Gardener TIP
Courgettes are vigorous producers, at their peak sometimes 5-6 courgettes per day per plant, scary stuff. To avoid a glut of courgettes stagger sowing, aiming for 2 plants per month April-July, and harvest courgettes when they are small, they not only taste better but will reduce the feeling of a glut.


This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.com  3/07/2006 now updated

Spaghetti with Courgettes

20 Jun

A very simple and tasty pasta dish that takes only 15 minutes from start to setting down on the table, so it’s great for a quick lunch. We have plenty of young courgettes ready to harvest, sweet and crisp, which are perfect for this dish, as well as lovely lush Genovese basil.

Serves 2 Cook & prep 15 mins

* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 1 red shallot, minced
* 2 cloves garlic
* 2 medium courgettes
* 2 portions spaghetti
* 2 tbsp parmesan shavings
* Large handful basil leaves, torn
* sea salt
* loads of freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 lemon

Cook the spaghetti, in a large pan of salted water, for 8 to 10 minutes until cooked al dente – firm to the bite. Meanwhile slice the courgettes in half lengthways, then into half moon slices, mince the shallot and garlic and toss with the courgettes, salt and pepper. Heat a wide frying pan or wok add the oil and when hot throw in the seasoned courgettes, fry until soften and beginning to brown. Stir in the basil, when the spaghetti is cooked drain and empty into the pan, toss well and serve with a scattering of parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon.

Variation
Stir in a couple of tablespoons of Gremolada instead of the basil. To make gremolada grind together a handful of parsley, grated rind of 1/2 lemon, 1 clove garlic and 1/4 tsp salt (optional) with a little olive oil.

This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.com on 20/6/2007.