Thursday, 19 August 2010

What's cooking? Courgettes!

One of the staple vegetables of my garden is the courgette. In previous years, I've had massive marrows from my courgette plants, and often didn't know how to use the plentiful harvest up without getting rather sick of eating courgettes. The problem with courgettes, especially when they grow to the size of a marrow, is that they have a high water content - which makes them unsuitable for freezing, so you kind of have to use them as you pick.

This year, my courgettes were pitiful, the size of gherkins if that. I had no problem using them up and hiding them amongst my general cooking. However, somehow I ended up this week with 3 courgettes from the supermarket plus a massive marrow-courgette grown by our neighbours in their allotment. I knew I had more than enough courgettes for this week's cooking, but could I say no to the offer of a home grown courgette? Surely not.

So it's courgette cooking time and I was determined to be a bit more creative this year. Thing is, cooking is not my greatest passion or skill (I wish it was, but let's be honest here) but somehow I felt motivated by being on maternity leave to put a bit more effort in providing home cooked and healthy meals. I'm also rather fed up with my stock of 10 quick recipes that I tend to draw on for cooking dinner after coming home from work.

I came across Maya Made's selection of courgette/zucchini recipes which gave me the idea that I could grate them. I know, that's a pretty basic thought, but not one that has ever occurred to me before. I then thought maybe I could make a courgette variation of Rhinish Reibekuchen (grated potato and onion cakes), looked up a recipe for that and started improvising. 15 minutes later and I had a yummy dinner on the plate which was gobbled up by hubby, Cubling and myself, which is quite an achievement (with one vegetarian, one carnivore cheese despiser and a toddler who is suspicious of anything green and red).

So I give you my own Zucchini Reibekuchen recipe:
(makes 6 - simply increase quantities for bigger families)
1 medium sized courgette, grated and drained (I drained just briefly, you can drain them for up to 20 minutes)
1 large potato, grated and drained
1 large onion, grated
4 large eggs
olive oil for frying

mix grated and drained vegetables. Beat egg. Mix egg under the vegetables. Heat oil in frying pan and fry the mixture, pushing it slightly down to make it even. Fry until golden brown (3-5 mins), turn and fry on the other side.

You can season to taste and add other ingredients - but they taste good even without any seasoning. Cheese will go well with them, especially feta, you could add nuts or seeds, mint, sundried tomatoes - anything goes. Serve with a fresh salad.

I also asked my friends for more recipe ideas and here are some of their recommendations:

Chocolate Courgette Cake
Courgette Fritters (very simple and similar to my recipe, just with flour instead of all the eggs in my recipe)
Nigella's Courgette Fritters (a bit more adventurous and with both egg and flour)
Courgette Frittata
Courgette and Tomato Gratin (Delia)
And my friend S's idea to peel courgettes thinly with a potato peeler, fry with fresh garlic, add creme fraiche, season and pour over pasta.
Cookie Scotland (do check them out on Facebook!) contributed another professional recipe, much to my delight: Pasta, good olive oil, basil, lemon rind, courgettes, garlic, pecorino cheese. Slow cook finely chopped courgettes, with whole cloves of garlic with olive oil. Remove cloves.
That is your sauce, grate 1/2 of untreated lemon rind, tear some basil leaves, cook your pasta and mix with some pecorino cheese. Dress with a little more olive oil. 

And if you still have some courgettes - Maya made has some more ideas too.




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