JUMP TO RECIPE -
God 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 after gaining taste after all, not losing the last molecules of it that the vegetable possesses.
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 striped light green and cream, but your taste buds will not be tickled much when in its presence.
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.
To hell with it – you know what?
- 2 large or 4 smaller yellow courgettes
- olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 250g (8oz.) minced lamb
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt and black pepper
- 100g (1 cup) cherry or baby plum tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp. tomato puree
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh basil, leaves stripped and torn roughly
- 2 tbsp. breadcrumbs
- butter, for brushing the dish
- 100g (1 cup) grated cheese, Gruyere, Monterey Jack or mozzarella
Wash, top and tail the courgettes; cut each one lengthwise in half. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon, leaving it about 1cm thick inside the skin. Dice the scooped out flesh.
Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a large pan and add the diced courgettes. Fry for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and keep aside. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the diced onion. Sweat it over medium heat until softened. Stir in the chopped garlic; add the mince. Mash it with a fork and stir well so it browns evenly. Season with sugar, salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and the puree, stir well and cook covered for 6-10 minutes until most liquid is absorbed.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the basil. Check for seasoning. Stir in the breadcrumbs and the diced cooked courgettes.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5. Butter an ovenproof dish that will fit all the courgette halves. Place them in skin down and fill with the lamb mix, packing in gently.
Sprinkle the tops with the grated cheese and bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
Let the dish stand for 5 minutes before serving.