Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Globe courgettes with goat's cheese, mint and honey, served with char grilled pepper tortilla

I could perhaps get into trouble with customs in admitting to this, I wonder what kind of punishment I could face for being a courgette smuggler...?

Seeing a box of them all spherical and lovely and perfect for stuffing in France last week pricked my skin with excitement, oh the possibilities! Courgettes are my favourite of the green veggies, and stuffing one thing with another is a favourite cooking technique of mine also, so the shiny green globes are a perfect addition to my kitchen.

I haven’t seen these in the UK before but my local grocer says they can be grown here, they’ve just not made it into the vegetable mainstream - so sneaking a few into my suitcase to bring home was a must.

I like how the delicate goat’s cheese, zingy mint and toasted pine nuts complement the vegetables fresh flavour, and with the honey glaze it seems to take on an almost Greek quality, tasting light and bright – perfect for this time of year when the nights are starting to draw in and we all cosy down.

Serving it with a fresh and flavoursome tortilla worked brilliantly, but for more carnivorous eaters I think simple lamb kebabs that have been rubbed in a spice mix of chilli, salt and cumin would accompany the globes deliciously.

You can do this dish with the standard courgette, you just need to use one that’s a medium to large size and hollow it out carefully, and when baking it use foil to cover it over to protect the contents.

For four:
The courgettes -
4 globe courgettes / 4 medium to large courgettes
100g soft goats cheese
50g pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
A handful of fresh mint
One teaspoon of runny honey per courgette
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

The tortilla -
One red pepper, pierced all over a few times
One orange pepper, pierced all over a few times
Six free range eggs
A glug of whole milk
Salt and pepper
8 baby new potatoes, boiled and cooled enough to handle and sliced up into 1/2cm thick discs

To serve -
Salad leaves (I like lambs lettuce and rocket but use whatever is your favourite)

- Oil the outside of your pierced peppers lightly and place them under a hot grill, cook them on all sides until they begin to char and blacken (this isn't strictly 'char-grilling' as there are no flames involved (or at least there shouldn't be!) but they do get a wonderful blackened char to their skin and they're cooked under the grill, so all is good
- Once they're blackened on all sides remove them from the grill and leave to cool on a plate, gently pulling the core out of the top of each so that the steam can escape and they cool quicker (make sure you don't get burnt by it!)
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and lightly oil the base of a baking sheet with olive oil
- If you have the globe courgettes, cut their lids off (at the point where you'd cut the top off a pumpkin to make a lantern), and if you're using regular straight courgettes, slice them in half length ways
- Using a melon baller (easiest way) or a teaspoon (just be careful not to pierce the flesh as the teaspoon is blunt) hollow out the centre of the courgettes and keep the inners to one side
- Chop up the inners and fry them on a low-medium heat in a little butter and olive oil until soft and starting to turn golden, add some salt and pepper and then pop them into a food processor (small compartment)
- Add the mint and goat's cheese to the food processor, along with a glug of extra virgin, blitz until smooth
- Take the blended mixture and stir the toasted pine nuts through, then spoon into the hollowed out courgettes
- Place the courgettes onto your oiled baking sheet with their lids on (or lidless if using straight courgettes) pour a bit of olive oil into the palms of your hands and rub the courgettes gently all over on their skins until they're nice and shiny. Pop them in the oven for 35 minutes, and during the last 7-8 minutes cook them without their lids or tin foil over the top of them.
- While they're cooking it's time to make the tortilla. Take the peppers and cut them open, then remove the seeds and pith and discard. Cut them length ways into large slices and try to keep as much of the juice as you can
- Break the eggs into a bowl and mix with a fork, adding a generous scrunch of salt and pepper and a glug of milk to the mix
- Take your frying pan and add some unsalted butter and a dash of frying oil to the pan, turn onto a low heat and lay the potatoes into the pan, then layer the peppers on top of the potatoes and pour the egg mix over the vegetables carefully
- Cook the tortilla on a low heat for around 25 minutes until only the top of the tortilla is wibbly, when this happens simply place it under the grill for a couple of minutes to fluff up and cook the top
- Serve the tortilla with a handful of dressed leaves and the lovely globe courgettes, once on the plate, drizzle each of the courgettes with the teaspoon of runny honey

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