Courgette and Tomato Gratin

Although the ingredients for this recipe appear simple, it requires careful cooking to get it right. If you do not cook the ingredients down properly, it can be slightly bitter and watery. Done well, it is amazing, more than the sum of its parts.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 70g butter
  • 800-900g courgettes
  • 1 tin organic chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • Wholemeal breadcrumbs

METHOD:

  • Use a peeler to peel the courgettes lengthwise. Do not peel completely, leaving a few strips of the green skin. Then slice them into thin rounds about half a centimetre thick.
  • Put the sliced courgettes in a colander and salt them, and leave them to drain for at least half an hour. Put a plate on top of them to press them down.
  • Put the chopped tomatoes, 10g of butter, chopped parsley and the garlic in a medium pan with salt and pepper and simmer very slowly to make a very thick paste.
  • In the meantime, put the sliced courgettes onto a tea-towel and mop up all the surface water, getting them as dry as possible.
  • Cook about half of the sliced courgettes in 20g of the butter. Start by gently melting the butter; do not let it colour brown. Add the courgettes and cook on a low heat until they are transparent. Repeat for the rest of the courgettes and another third of the butter. Doing them in two separate batches allows you to cook all of the courgettes properly.
  • Amalgamate the tomatoes and the courgettes, and put the mixture into an oven ready dish. Smooth down the top and strew with breadcrumbs, just a light layer. Dab a little more butter over the surface. Put the dish in the top of a hot oven (around 190C) for 25 minutes and serve very hot when the surface is a deep golden brown.

This would be a good accompaniment for pork or lamb, or served as a light meal with a baked potato .

Potato and courgettes

This is a simple dish to bake in the oven, it can be flavoured with your favourite herbs. This time I used thyme. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 courgettes, cut in four lengthways, and then sliced into chunks
  • 4 medium potatoes (I used Arran pilot) cleaned and cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into chunks
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 4 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp mild smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, or a handful of fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Set the oven to 200C
  • Mix all the ingredients together and put into a roasting tin
  • Bake for one hour, stirring from time to time. 

We served this with a green salad

Raw courgette salad

Guess what – it is courgette season. This recipe is so easy. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • a handful of rocket leaves
  • 4 small courgettes, chilled, washed and sliced into small rounds 
  • salt and pepper
  • Dressing of lemon juice and olive oil
  • Shavings of parmesan

METHOD:

  • Wash the rocket and spin dry in a salad spinner
  • Put the rocket and courgette slices in a bowl, dress with salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and garnish with a good amount of parmesan shavings. 

Duck eggs, toast and summer vegetables.

Hello all, and thank you to the person who gave us delicious fresh duck eggs. They are lovely fried in olive oil. I made this with courgettes from the Tagsa Horticulture Project. I made it without aubergines on this occasion, as there were none in the shops. It should serve around six people. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped (mix of red/white is good)
  • 2 aubergines, diced (optional)
  • 4 sweet peppers, chopped (mix of green and red)
  • 2 large courgettes, chopped
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • duck eggs, one per serving

METHOD:

It is useful to remember that you are aiming to caramelise and brown the vegetables, so the cooking is done over a medium heat, and keep a close eye, stirring to prevent things from catching, and adding around 50ml olive oil from time to time to keep things cooking well. 

  • Heat around 100ml olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, cook for around a minute and then add the onions, cooking and stirring for around ten minutes. The onions should be soft. 
  • Add the aubergines and peppers, cook for two minutes and then add the courgettes and keep cooking for another two to three minutes. Add a little more oil if necessary. 
  • Add the bay leaves, paprika and cook for another ten to fifteen minutes, stirring from time to time. Then add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook for another ten minutes, topping up the olive oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • When the dish is cooked, turn the heat off. Fry the duck eggs in hot olive oil, one by one in a small frying pan. 

Serve the vegetables on a plate with a fried egg on each portion, and with crusty bread. We had some home-made white bread, toasted. 

Courgette and Yoghurt salad

It’s courgette season. I love raw courgette, so crunchy. I love it sliced into long strips and grilled, with lemon dressing. I love this salad, from Madhur Jaffrey. It is really easy and quick. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 courgettes, around 350 to 400g
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 red onion
  • 350ml plain yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • black pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste and garnish. 

METHOD:

  • Use a food processor to grate the courgette coarsely. Put the grated courgette onto a tea towel in a heap and sprinkle with half a teaspoon of salt. 
  • Peel the onion, halve it and then slice thinly across the way. 
  • Beat the yoghurt in a bowl and add 1/4 tsp salt, a pinch of cayenne and a grate of black pepper
  • Wrap the tea towel around the grated courgette and wring out any excess water. Use your fingers to separate any clumps. 
  • Heat the oil in a pan, and when it is hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds start to pop, add the onion, and fry for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add the dried courgette, and fry for another three minutes or so. When it is done, turn the heat off and let it cool a bit, before stirring it into the yoghurt. Decant to a serving bowl and sprinkle with cayenne pepper. 

This can be served as a side dish with just about anything. It is as good cold from the fridge as it is warm.

 

 

Ratatouille

I have tried many recipes for ratatouille, this is the best. I think I got it off the internet, with a promise that this was the most authentic.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 aubergine, diced
  • 4 courgettes, halved and sliced
  • 300g french beans, cut to 1 inch lengths
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup of chopped fennel leaves
  • fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • Salt the diced aubergines and courgettes and set aside. Rinse the salt off after 20 minutes (I do this in a colander)
  • Heat the oil in a large pan, and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft.
  • Add the aubergines and courgettes, and cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes, and then with the lid off for 20 minutes. Keep a close eye and stir occasionally, to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.

This freezes OK, but it is best reheated the day after making it.

Courgette and tomato soup

I got this recipe from Lindsay Bareham’s book, ‘A Celebration of Soup‘ – which is a classic.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 225g courgettes, diced
  • 450g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled, diced and rinsed
  • 1.1L boiling water
  • 100g broad beans
  • 40g pasta (small pasta, broken pasta)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • basil leaves
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaved parsley

METHOD:

  • Heat the olive oil and gently cook the sliced onions, so that they get very soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add the diced courgettes, and cook gently for another 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, peel and chop all but 2 of the tomatoes, and soften with the other ingredients in the pot.
  • Once the tomatoes have cooked in, add the diced potato and hot water, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the beans and the pasta, and the seasoning.
  • While all of this is going on, grill the reserved tomatoes, skin them and remove the seeds.
  • In a mortar, pulverise the garlic, adding the tomatoes, basil and then the egg yolks, to make a smooth paste like mayonnaise.
  • When the pasta is cooked, take a ladleful of soup, and beat it into the egg mixture, then pour this back into the soup pan, stirring all the time.
  • Just before serving, stir in the parmesan, and garnish with chopped parsley.