Dealing with a surfeit of courgettes and a husband who claims to detest them, I wondered if I could get a three course, courgette-based meal past him without him noticing, or at least without the kitchen smelling of burning martyr.
Actually I made that up. I did make all these dishes but I served them on separate nights. They are sufficiently different though that you could, in theory, get away with serving them as one meal.
I can say, hand on heart, that even Him Outdoors admitted that he enjoyed them.
To be fair, he does grow the courgettes for me, even though he mutters volubly about their thuggish behaviour in the vegetable plot. And don’t get him started on the subject of the winter squash.
The starter: Stuffed Courgette Flowers
This occasioned a vigorous family debate: do you leave the baby courgettes attached or do you fritter the stuffed flowers on their own? (I know, First World problem, right?)
Either works well. I think they look more attractive in their entirety and I liked the contrast in textures, but I was outvoted by the family, who would have preferred to eat the stuffed flowers on their own.
It’s really a matter of personal taste. I’m giving the recipe as I cooked it but feel free to cook the flowers solo if that’s what you want.
Allow two mini courgettes plus flowers per person
Keep the baby courgettes attached to the flower, but slit them halfway up, lengthways, to allow the heat to penetrate when you cook them.
Always nip out the stamens from inside the flower, they taste bitter. Give the flowers a quick rinse to dislodge any lurking insects and place on kitchen paper to dry.
For an easy stuffing mix a small (250g) tub of ricotta with a three or four tablespoons of grated parmesan, the zest of a lemon, a handful of finely chopped fresh herbs such as basil and/or chives and salt and pepper.
Carefully unfurl the courgette flowers and put a couple of teaspoons of stuffing in each one, twisting the tips of the petals to seal.
Tip: any leftover stuffing is good in ravioli. Cheat and use wonton wrappers, or, as I saw them advertised online the other day, wanton wrappers. Ooh, yes, I’ll have some of those.
Make a tempura-style batter using 75 g plain flour, 75 g cornflour, 1 egg and 188 ml iced water. It’s best made last minute.
Lightly mix the egg yolk into the iced water then add that to the flour and mix until smooth.
Dip the courgette with its stuffed flower still attached (hopefully, but it’s not a disaster if they come apart) into the batter then deep fry in hot sunflower oil until golden.
Drain on kitchen paper and eat while hot but not molten.
Any leftover batter can be used to make vegetable or prawn tempura.
The main: Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables with Chorizo and Halloumi
Sort of a caponata, with additions …
2 small aubergines (eggplants), chopped into chunks
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into similar sized chunks
3 or 4 small courgettes (zucchini), also chunked
1 large red onion, ditto
A large handful of cherry tomatoes
4 oz (113g) chorizo, sliced into rounds
9 oz (250g) halloumi, cut into 1/4″ (5mm) slices
1 heaped tablespoon of capers, rinsed and patted dry
Red wine vinegar
A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
A tablespoon of fresh oregano (or marjoram) leaves
Preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas 7.
Drizzle a roasting tin with oil. Put all the veg except the tomatoes in the tin and roast for about 30 minutes, until they’re cooked through and browning nicely but still have some bite. Add the tomatoes halfway through.
Heat a frying pan and frizzle the sliced chorizo until the oil runs and the sausage is beginning to brown.
Add the chorizo to the roast veg and stir in the capers and herbs and a teaspoon or two of red wine vinegar. Arrange on a serving dish and keep warm.
Wipe out the frying pan, add a little olive oil and put over a medium heat. Fry the halloumi for about a minute a side until it’s golden and arrange it on top of the veg and chorizo. Sprinkle with more herbs and serve with crusty bread.
And for afters: Lemon Courgette cake with a Lemon Drizzle Topping
Works equally well with a cup of tea or as a pudding (with a good dollop of creme fraiche or ice cream and a handful of berries).
Ingredients for the cake:
7 oz (200g) courgette, coarsely grated
5 oz (150g) caster sugar
4 fl oz (125 ml) sunflower oil
7 oz (200g) of self raising flour
1/2 tspn salt
1 tspn mixed spice or cinnamon
The grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tspn lemon extract (if you have it and if you want the cake to be extra lemony – or you can add more zest)
Ingredients for the drizzle:
The juice of 1/2 lemon
Up to 5 oz (150g) icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4.
Grease a loaf tin and dust with flour, tapping it to get rid of the excess.
In a large bowl, beat together the grated courgette, sugar, egg and oil (and the lemon extract, if using).
In a second bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Stir in the spice and lemon zest.
Stir the flour mixture into the courgette mix. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
If you are using smaller tins please adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Meanwhile make the glaze: mix the lemon juice and icing sugar until you have a runny icing, adjusting the quantities as necessary.
When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool in the tin for five minutes before turning it out on a wire rack.
Allow it to cool completely before drizzling with the lemon icing.