sauteed courgettes with magic breadcrumbs
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Forget the courgettes which nobody likes anyway, it’s the breadcrumbs that this recipe is all about.
Those are magic. They have the ability to transform the blandest vegetables into a feast. They make children eat broccoli. They let you create pasta dishes that cost 5p a plate. They turn a limp green salad into a chef’s table starter.
There can be tonnes of variations on the breadcrumbs theme: add chopped garlic. Squish an anchovy into the Parmesan before adding to the pan. Chop up the hottest birdseye or crumble a dried habanero in. Swap parsley for mint or tarragon or coriander or chives. Add onion powder. Add lemon zest. A little brown sugar. A shaved truffle.
It ain’t necessarily butter either: any oil will work, with the possible exception of essential oils. Lard, drippings, goose fat, shortening, though I’d not tested the last one.
You’ll want to make double or quadruple the amount for later. You’ll want to eat spoonfuls on their own. Heck, you might even make a breadcrumb sandwich or sprinkle them on ice cream (that’s not a joke; though not the crumbs with lard and garlic).
And the best thing is you don’t need fancy pankoes for this. Any leftover bread, not terribly seeded to be sure, can be dried and whizzed in the blender; or whizzed and left to dry on a tray: the order doesn’t matter. Before you know it you’ll cut the bread waste in your home to zero – and that’s what we all want.
sauteed courgettes with magic breadcrumbsServings: 2-4Time: about half an hour
- For the breadcrumb topping:
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 3 tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
- salt and black pepper
- 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan
- 1 tbsp. very finely chopped parsley
- For the courgettes:
- 300g (10oz.) courgettes, washed and unpeeled
- 2 small red hot chilies, deseeded
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
To make the breadcrumb topping (which can be sprinkled over any vegetables to zing them up; you may want to make double the amount and keep it in a jar in the fridge), melt the butter in a small skillet. When it’s foaming, add the breadcrumbs and season them with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring all the time, until they brown.
Add the parmesan and rub it into the breadcrumbs with a spoon whilst keeping it on low heat. When the Parmesan disappears into the crumbs, take the pan off the heat and stir in the parsley. Set aside.
Cut the courgettes into large dice or half-rounds. Chop the chilies and the garlic finely. In a large frying pan or a wok melt the butter and add the oil over quite high heat.
Add the courgettes and sauté, tossing or stirring frequently until they start to colour and char. Add the garlic and chilies and continue sautéing for a couple of minutes. Take off the heat and season with salt.
Transfer the courgettes into a bowl or straight onto plates and sprinkle generously with the crumbs.