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Posts Tagged ‘zucchini’

Just back from an unexpectedly extended London visit–thanks to a strike by air traffic controllers in France. In fact the extra days (4) were a blessing. A chance to catch up with brother Jack who flew in from Japan the day before we were supposed to leave and nephew Theo, who plays bass guitar in Wolf Alice–burgeoning indy band about to hit the big time.

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Brothers as the backing group to the new kid on the block!

Now back in France and a stew with SUMMER  in its DNA–though the seasonal sweetness of fresh tomatoes  may not yet be fully expressed–and enough comfort factor to lift the spirits after a wet and wretched May here–not to mention the tempest raging outside today!

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It’s inspired by a Martha Rose Shulman recipe in The New York Times.

Few ingredients, simple to do and a pleasing look–just the ticket!

1 medium onion–chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves–mashed with half a teaspoon of salt

3 medium courgettes/zucchini–cut in centimeter rounds

3 tbsp chopped tomatoes–tinned [canned] at this time of year

200gm/8oz cherry tomatoes–halved

250gms cooked white beans, tinned or jarred–(the best you can find–I favour jarred)

3 sprigs of thyme

salt and pepper

Sweat the onion in the oil until soft; then tip in the garlic and sauté for a few seconds.

Add the courgettes/zucchini and turn them over in the mix.

Cook until they too start to soften–about 5 minutes.

Add all the tomatoes, thyme sprigs and a seasoning of salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes until the cherry tomatoes start to soften.

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Add the beans and their liquid and/or a couple of tablespoons of water.

Cook for a further 15 minutes.

Check the seasoning for salt and pepper.

We are having the stew spooned over a baked sweet potato tonight.

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Few spring vegetables on the stalls yet.

Asparagus and spring onions, yes–but where are the broad beans?

The rain continues to pour and it’s still cold–making it near impossible for local vegetable growers.

(Our neighbour, Serge’s younger brother told me in Lautrec market this morning that there was a year in the Fifties–he’s too young to remember which–when it rained until September!)

Brainwave!

I buy a couple of fat courgettes (Spanish, no doubt) and think to grill them in thick slices on the griddle and top them with scallions/spring onions done the same way.

Could make a pretty picture…

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… and go well with the salmon fillets I just bought.

2 plump courgettes–carefully sliced lengthwise, not too finely, lightly salted and left to drain for an hour

1 or 2 plump scallions/spring onions–sliced similarly

2 long chilis–sliced lengthwise

olive oil

salt and pepper

  • Heat the griddle to hot.
  • Mix the the courgettes slices with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Mix the onions and chili with a little less olive oil.
  • Place the courgettes slices on the griddle and leave for five minutes to char and soften.
  • Turn over and repeat the process.
  • When you judge they are done sufficiently remove to a serving plate and grind over some pepper.

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  • Distribute the onion and chili mix over the griddle.

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  • Grill for about five minutes to soften and char these too.
  • Remove them to the serving plate, season and serve.

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  • This lunchtime they made a nice contrast with the salmon fillet cooked slow (see recipe in Delicious Dishes for Diabetics!).

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Words to yesterday’s pictures!

This is a classic Mediterranean dish and everyone has a way to do it– as is clear from the comments left after yesterday’s Wordless Blog.

(I want to try a courgette parmegiagno this week–where the courgettes/zucchini are griddled as aubergines/eggplants are in the classic dish and then as here mixed with tomato and cheese).

Italian style because it’s inspired by a Marcella Hazan version and is a little different to the Elizabeth David’s French gratin in Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.

  • Prepare 3 good size courgettes/zucchinitop and tail them and slice them thin–a food mixer appliance does this nicely.
  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the sliced courgettes, a chopped garlic clove and half a teaspoon of salt. 

  • Turn everything over several times to coat the vegetables lightly in the oil.
  • Cook on a low heat until the courgettes are wilted.

  • Set the courgettes/zucchini aside.
  • Make a quick tomato sauce with
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1k/2lbs fresh tomatoes–cored and roughly chopped or 2 large tins of tomatoes–drained of their juice and roughly chopped.
  • 2 garlic cloves–peeled and thinly sliced.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • A few basil leaves–chopped.

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic.
  • Soften it briefly–being careful not to let it brown too much or burn.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook over a high heat–stirring often–until the loose liquid has evaporated and little pock marks appear on the surface.
  • If you can part the Red Searunning a spoon through it–it’s done.
  • Season with salt and pepper and stir in the basil.
  • Grate 3 to 4 tablespoons (about 40gms) parmesan cheese.
  • Heat the oven to 200C/450F.
  • Smear the base of an oven proof baking dish of suitable size with some of the tomato sauce.

  • Then cover this with a layer of courgettes/zucchini.

  • Season lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle a layer of parmesan.

  • And repeat the layering, starting with a layer of tomatoes.
  • (Not forgetting to season lightly at each layer.)

  • Topping it off with the last of the parmesan.
  • Put the dish high in the oven for about 20 minutes or until it displays an inviting crispy brown top.

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Spatchcocked chicken, roasted onion and sweet potato and a new courgette/zucchini dish

Joy!

We sat on the terrace last night and ate this simple meal, while Beau played tag with the cows…

and the harvesters were hard at it in the field beyond the road.

Just the three of us–our friend Romaine came back with us from London.

The chicken she and Meredith bought would serve six and there were more onions and an extra sweet potato in the basket for unexpected guests.

The kilo of courgettes–slow cooked and melting–would easily stretch to six.

Happy to be home–we tucked in.

The courgettes/zucchini recipe is from Skye Gyngell’s version in her book  How I Cook.

It is cooked slow and is mushily delicious with a little kick from the chili.

 Slow cooked courgettes/zucchini with garlic and mint.

for 4 

1 lb courgettes/zucchini--sliced thin

2 garlic cloves–sliced thin

1 small dried red chili–chopped

a handful of mint (if you have it)-chopped

salt and pepper

1 tblsp olive oil

  • In a medium pan,  gently soften the garlic and chili in the oil.

  • Add the sliced courgettes/zucchini and turn them over in the oil to coat them thoroughly.
  • Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Turn again to distribute the seasoning.
  • Cover the pan and cook for forty minutes on a very low heat.
  • Uncover and fold in the mint, if you have it–which we have, but I forgot it!

I made it again today with a pound (500 grams) of the courgettes and we enjoyed it tepid as a salad.

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Things don’t always grow to plan in the vegetable patch…!

 

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“—It’s going to be a busy night” to paraphrase Bette Davis in All About Eve

rounded off by a lunar eclipse (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jun/15/lunar-eclipse-moon-red).

Meredith’s passion–Circle Dancing (http://www.findhorn.org/)aka Sacred Dancing–learned at the Findhorn Foundation(http://www.findhorn.org/) north of Inverness in Scotland.

She has a regular circle of enthusiasts, who dance each month on the night of the full moon for a couple of hours.

in full swing…

John–honourable retiree.

Everyone brings a dish to share after the dance.

My contribution–Courgette soup– is adapted from the River Cafe’s recipe.

It was spotted by our friend and fellow dancer, Sonia,

who grows courgettes herself and brings us a shining green handful from time to time.

It is simple and satisfying, with a light green hue and creamy texture.

for 4

1 kilo courgettes/zucchini–fresh as possible–cut into 1″ square pieces


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic–chopped
500ml/1 pint stock–I use organic vegetable stock cubes
1 small pot/125gms low/no fat yogurt
50gms grated parmesan— add more to your taste
salt & pepper

a handful each of chopped parsley and chopped basil

  • Fry the courgettes and garlic in the oil until they are very tender and browned a little–about 30 minutes.

a double batch

  • Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper– taking care with the salt assuming there is salt in the stock.
  • Let the soup cool a little.
  • Remove a quarter of the courgette pieces and liquidise the rest with a food mixer or handheld liquidiser.
  • Return the whole courgette pieces to the soup.
  • Stir in the cheese and yogurt followed by the parsley and basil.
  • Reheat gently.
  • Check the seasoning and bring up to a simmer.
  • Serve in warm bowls.
–there’ll be no need for seat belts* though!
(B Davis’ famous line in the film–“Fasten your seat belts–it’s going to be a bumpy night!”)

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as a starter...

Our friend Fronza Woods, who is vegetarian and cooks delicious delicacies, introduced us to these little numbers. They serve as a vegetable or as a starter with a tomato coulis.

Today we had them for lunch with a green salad.

Serves 6 as a starter and 4 for lunch

2 courgettes or 1 large– left unpeeled and grated

2 tablespoons Emmental cheese – grated

4 tablespoons of onion – grated

1 tablespoon fine breadcrumbs – wholewheat or rye

salt and pepper

2 eggs

Heat the oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

  •  Combine the first four ingredients, season well and mix thoroughly.
  • Check the seasoning and fold in the eggs.
  • Oil the muffin cups. This amount is enough to fill one of those rubber trays of twelve.
  • Fill each cup with the mixture and carefully transfer to the middle of the oven.
  • Bake for 30 minutes–checking after 20 minutes for doneness. They should be springy and nicely brown.
  • Serve on a tablespoon of tomato coulis.

...or lunch.

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