Marrows large, marrows small, marrows like a cannon ball
Long ago and far away, newly married, on a glorious summer Sunday day, after attending a conference in the north of England my wife and I drove south, homewards. We had booked lunch in the countryside near Cambridge at a then famous small restaurant run by a brilliant, but irascible Frenchman.
After a simple but truly memorable meal we paid up and departed. The
André Amara, was at the garden gate. He kissed Mary and gave her a beautiful white rose. He shook my hand and from behind his back produced a small marrow, which he gave me with a sly wink. Whenever I see one now, I think of that moment, and I also wish such delicious and simple food was to be had today, and cooked and served by such a man. (
His menu, part of which I reproduce here, was as eccentric as the man, with its heading in several languages:
Confusingly, these useful little vegetables come with several names: they used to be called “Baby Marrows” and the English boiled them and served them rather limp with a white sauce. When food became international the smart glossy magazines called them Zucchini if they were American-influenced or Courgettes if they leaned towards the continent. The Greeks, of course, have their own word for it:
This is unpronounceable by anyone English, so generally we cling to the French word. The Greek for Courgette Fritters, my recipe for this week is even more difficult.
These are called and they are a tasty addition to any meze table. Try them as a vegetarian alternative to meatballs or top them with a fresh tzatziki sauce and you just may decide to make them the main meal. 6 dark green courgettes (about 15 cms / 6 inches long) 1 smallish onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 tbsp olive oil 200 g of minced lamb or beef 3 slices of Snack brand back bacon, finely chopped 1 tsp tomato purée 1 clove garlic, peeled and very finely chopped 1 tbsp water 1 tbsp chopped parsley Salt and pepper to season 1 medium sized tomato, skin removed and chopped 1 very small tub of strained Yogurt 3 – 4 sprigs of min, chopped 50 g of finely grated hard cheese (Cyprus will do nicely) 1. Heat your oven to 200C / 400F. 2. Cut off courgettes. 3. Blanch the boiling water minutes. 4. Remove from pan, cool a little, then cut them in half length-ways. 5. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds to leave a nice channel running along the halved courgettes. 6. In a non-stick frying pan, fry the onion until soft and getting a little golden at the edges. 7. Tip the minced meat, bacon and garlic in and stir fry for a minute or so. 8. Now put in the tomato purée, water and sugar. Stir. 9. Stir-fry for 12 – 15 minutes until meat is cooked through, then add the yogurt, chopped tomato and mint. Season to taste, stir well and remove pan from stove. 11. Spoon the mixture into the halved sprinkle over the grated cheese. 10. Put in the centre of the hot oven and bake until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.
of courgettes for 2 –
the in 3
Round courgettes look very good when brought to the table or individually on a plate. You treat them the same as straight ones (except you cut the top off like a lid and scoop out the inside). Here, they have been stuffed with a mix of meat, onions, garlic, herbs and a few bread crumbs. Lids on, they are put in an oven dish with water half way up the courgettes and cooked at a medium temperature for about an hour, or until the meat is cooked. Salt and pepper to taste Olive oil for frying 1. Using a coarse grater, shred the courgettes and place in a colander. 2. Sprinkle with salt and allow the courgettes to sweat for 15 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze out the excess liquid from the courgettes to make it as dry as possible. (Like you are making courgette snowballs.) 3. In a medium sized mixing bowl put the courgettes, beaten eggs, crumbled feta, minced herbs, all purpose flour, and selfrising flour. 4. Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well. You don’t want to over mix because the zucchini will get keep releasing more water. 5. Place some all-purpose flour in a shallow plate or baking pan. This will be for rolling the croquettes lightly in flour before frying them. 6. Using medium high heat, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan. 7. Using a small scoop or a large soup spoon, take a walnutsized portion of the mixture in your hands and roll it like a meatball. Dredge lightly in flour. Shake off the excess flour before frying. The mixture will be wet and sticky. 8. Fry the croquettes in the olive oil until they are a golden brown colour turning once. You may want to flatten them a little in the pan for more even cooking.
Drain on paper towels or on a cooling rack placed in a half sheet pan. There are several ways to serve: with dollops of fresh yogurt; with a tomato salsa; or with a bowl of
In this lovely dish a cooked meat “stuffing” has been wrapped with very thin slices of courgette (lengthways) which have been blanched for a minute or so and oven baked for a few minutes. Elegant and tasty accompanied by a rice pilaff with slivers of almonds.