In case you missed them in store, here are my 3 courgette recipes from last month’s Waitrose Weekend.
In season Courgettes
We are so used to cooking with Mediterranean ingredients arriving from somewhere in the world that they have become ubiquitous in the kitchen. But the courgette is one of the summer squash family that grows well here at home through our English summer. And now the vegetable is at its very finest – shiny, crisp and pale-hued with the flesh creamy and tinged with green. High in water – 90 percent – and not so high in nutrients, courgettes make the perfect host for other strong flavours such as citrus, mint, garlic and tomato. They bake, grate, ribbon, grill or fry and because of this endearing flexibility, appear in countless recipes from all around the Mediterranean and beyond.
I’ve taken inspiration from this popularity for my three recipes this month. They all deserve a place at your summer table for their versatility, flavour and good looks. Two are versions of old favourites and the third a happy new discovery. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have….
Courgette, aubergine and tomato gratin
I love this simple versatile gratin as it makes a supper on its own or a veg accompaniment to lamb or chicken dishes. The secret with courgette and aubergine here is to make sure they are well charred to caramelise their sugars and bring out their flavour
Serves 4/Prepare 10 minutes/Cook: 35 minutes
750g medium courgettes, thinly sliced lengthways
2 small aubergines, thinly sliced lengthways
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
225g Pome dei Moro tomatoes, halved (or 400g can plum tomatoes, drained)
125g mozzarella, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
4 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
2 – 3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp chopped flat leafed parsley
3 tbsp grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano
- Preheat the oven to 220˚C, Gas 7. Place the courgettes and aubergine slices together in a bowl and add 2 tbsp of the oil and seasoning. Toss together to coat and arrange in two oiled baking sheets large enough to take all the vegetables in a single layer.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking, until the vegetables are tender and golden brown. Add the halved tomatoes for the final 5 minutes
- Meanwhile, mix the crumbs in a small bowl with the garlic, parsley and Parmesan. Layer up the roasted vegetables in a gratin dish with the tomatoes, mozzarella slices and oregano. Spoon the crumb mixture over the top and drizzle with the remaining oil. Return the dish to the oven for a further 10 minutes until the top is golden and the vegetables are tender. Serve with ciabatta to mop up the juices.
Courgette, prawn and Udon noodle salad with nuoc cham dressing
A gloriously simple and pretty salad to make with the new season’s courgettes. The Vietnamese sweet sour dressing that creates such a pleasing balance of flavours comes from my daughter Isobel
Serves 4/Prepare 15 minutes/Cook 5 minutes
200g medium courgettes, trimmed
1 large organic carrot, trimmed and scrubbed
4 – 6 spring onions
200g brown rice Udon noodles
140g pack tiger prawns
½ 28g pack fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp sesame seeds
For the dressing:
2 tbsp Nam Pla fish sauce
juice of 2 limes
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- Cut the courgette and carrots lengthways into long thin ribbons with a swivel vegetable peeler. Cut the spring onions into diagonal lengths about 1.5cm.
- Cook the noodles for 9 minutes in boiling water according to pack instructions then drain and rinse under cold water. Pat dry and place in a salad bowl with the prawns, coriander, onions and the vegetable ribbons. Dry fry the sesame seeds for a minute or two in a non-stick frying pan until golden then add to the salad.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl with 2 tbsp cold water and pour over the salad. Toss well to coat and leave to stand for an hour for the flavours to develop. Serve.
Courgette, pea and mint tortilla
Tortilla is my go-to summer lunch dish as I’ve always got the basic ingredients to rustle one up when unexpected guests or family turn up. This is one of my favourite versions. Serve at room temperature with harissa mayonnaise and a salad; leftovers make great snacks or picnic fare.
Serves 2 – 3/Prepare 10 minutes/Cook 20 minutes
100g podded fresh peas
250g Jersey Royal or Charlotte potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced
2 medium courgettes, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
60g diced chorizo or bacon lardons
4 large free-range eggs
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp rose harissa
- Cook the peas in a little boiling water for a minute. Drain and refresh under cold water. Heat half the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the onion, potatoes, seasoning well, and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, turning the vegetables until the potatoes are starting to brown. Add the courgette and chorizo if using, raise the heat and continue cooking for a further 4 – 5 minutes until the potatoes are golden and tender. Stir in the peas.
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the drained vegetables, mint and plenty of seasoning. Stir to combine and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
- Heat the remaining oil in a 20cm frying pan, add the egg mixture and cook over a low-medium heat for 5 – 8 minutes, lifting the mixture to let the egg run under until the egg is set on top and golden underneath. Place a large plate over the pan and turn the tortilla out onto. and then carefully slide it back into the pan for 3- 4 minutes to cook the other side. Turn again twice until the tortilla is cooked and firm in the centre. The turning is important to create the classic cake shape. Serve warm or cold with a tomato and onion salad.
Three quick ideas with courgettes
Fried grated courgette with rosemary and garlic
this is one of my favourite ways to cook larger more watery courgettes and goes wonderfully with roast meat, especially lamb. Coarsely grate courgettes and fry in a little hot butter and olive oil until golden brown, stirring regularly. Add a mix of chopped rosemary, basil and parsley plus chopped garlic and cook for a minute. Season and serve.
Courgette, chilli and black olive pasta
- probably my favourite quick pasta supper dish of all time. Fry thin batons of courgette in hot olive oil until golden brown seasoning well. Add chopped garlic, quartered stoned Kalamata olives and a scattering of dried chilli flakes and cook for a minute then toss with spaghetti and lots of grated parmesan. Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and serve
Barbecued courgettes with spices
- Strips of courgette cook beautifully on the BBQ. I like to marinate them first in oil infused with sliced garlic and a mix of ground cinnamon, smoked paprika and ground ginger. Cook over the coals then leave to come back to room temperature for the best flavour