Oven baked courgette boats stuffed with tomato and garlic flavoured lamb filling, topped with grated cheese. It’s a cheap, cheerful, bubbling, flavoursome and easy dish for when you’ve run out of ideas how to prepare courgettes.
How to cook courgettes?
Heaven knows I’ve tried to make courgettes interesting, in all possible ways.
I’ve spiced them up, I’ve salted them down. I’ve sliced them and diced them. I’ve marinated them in herbs and oils and mixed with tomatoes. I’ve squeezed the living daylights out of them and I soaked them in water.
I’ve only drawn a line at courgetti and spiralizing because I’m not the kind of person who spiralises.
Because it is the universal truth that courgette is an exceedingly bland vegetable.
Call it zucchini, it’s still tasteless. Call it marrow if you like – the beast will remain watery. It may be green or yellow or even handsomely striated light green and cream, but your taste buds will not be tickled much when in its presence.
Ways with a courgette
So you can fry it. Or you can braise it. Grill it with chilli or roast it with tomatoes.
You can gratinée it and you might bake it whole. Halve and quarter, peel or de-seed. Coat in batter, roll in breadcrumbs, dip in tempura.
You may even try boiling it or eating it raw but nothing will change the fact that it tastes of nothing much at all.
So you know what?
Green or yellow courgettes?
It really doesn’t matter. I picked yellow ones for this recipe because they are a little bigger than the standard green ones, offering more space for the lamb filling. But if green ones are all you have, use them: the plant to meat ratio will be in favour of plant, which is a benefit.
Yellow or green, they need to be trimmed at both ends, sliced in half lengthwise, and the flesh scraped out with a spoon, leaving only about 1 cm thickness inside the skin. Boats of courgette – that’s what we’re aiming for.
But the beauty of this dish is that nothing goes to waste – the scooped out courgette flesh will be used in the filling.
How to prepare lamb filling
It’s a lovely mix: lamb mince seasoned with garlic, onion and tomatoes, thickened with breadcrumbs.
First the scooped out courgette needs to be briefly cooked with a little oil, though at a push you can skip that step.
Then, in the same frying pan the lamb should be browned, with diced onion and chopped garlic.
Next, halved cherry tomatoes plus some tomato puree for a boost will be added and cooked with the lamb until the released liquid is cooked off and the mix is nice and thick.
The last step is adding the breadcrumbs, torn basil or any other herb, the surplus courgette pulp and seasoning to taste.
Stuffing and baking
The mix can now be stuffed into the courgette boats, packed in and topped with grated cheese, of course.
The boats should sit in a single layer in a lightly buttered gratin dish, but not dancing around too loosely. It’s best to find a dish by measuring up the courgettes to it before they are stuffed.
After about half an hour in a hot oven, the dish will be gorgeously browned and bubbling. You can serve it on its own, with good crusty bread or a side of plain rice or a baked potato.
More courgette recipes
Caramelised courgettes with basil and garlic: is it a sauce, a condiment, a side dish? All of those and more.
Tian de courgettes, courgette and spinach gratin, courgette bake - however you call it, it's a great vegetarian recipe. Zucchini and spinach are a well matched couple, appearing elsewhere in risottos, pasta and frittatas.
Courgette fritters without grating, made with courgette slices fried in spicy coating. Courgette fritters in tomato and paprika cornmeal coating are a great side dish or a perfect snack or starter.
More minced lamb recipes
Classic Greek moussaka with potato slices and minced lamb and beef meat sauce. Moussaka layers are potatoes, aubergines, minced lamb and the topping of thick béchamel. It’s a great potluck dish easy to make in large quantities.
Greek style lamb koftas served with a simple harissa dip. Lamb koftas are perfect for a barbecue and just as tasty griddled following this easy recipe.
Homemade lamb doner kebab from Tom Kerridge is made in the oven, served in a tortilla wrap and devoured in seconds. Who said you can’t make street food at home?