Friday, August 15, 2008

How to Stuff a Courgette

I've fallen hard for the perfectly round courgettes (zucchini) that are the size of small melons--and in season right now. 

As well as courgettes, market stalls these days are also  banked high with stout, glossy purple or white aubergines (eggplants), shiny red peppers and branches of fat tomatoes. 

One hugely popular way to turn any, or all of these, into a main course is to combine their innards with seasoned meat. 

Tidily lined up in store windows, markets and supermarkets: you see légumes farcis everywhere across the south of France at this time of year. 

I began with the small packet of fresh sausage meat that I bought the other day from the travelling butcher (relax, health police, I'd kept it in the freezer).

Normally, when I cook ground meat of any kind, I have to siphon off a bucketload of fat. Not this time. In fact, there was so little grease I didn't even bother to get rid of it. To the meat mixture, I added chopped onion and garlic, then seasoned it all with herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. 

I sliced off the little "hats" of the courgettes, and scooped out their insides leaving a shell thin enough to cook but substantial enough to hold the contents. Coarsely chopped, the filling went into the pan. It released quite a lot of water so I simmered the mixture for a few minutes to thicken it. The final addition was some leftover croutons which I bashed into medium-sized crumbs. 

I spooned the mixture into the courgettes, drizzled a little olive oil over the top and popped each one into a small earthware soufflé dish just big enough to hold it. Technical details: a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes--the timing will vary with the size of the courgette. Cook the "shell" till you can pierce it with a fork but not so much that it collapses.

P.S. That "sauce" on the side is simply a chopped up Green Zebra tomato mixed with a little vinaigrette.

1 comment: said...

Landed on your blog today - congrats! Your blog on the rounded courgette sent me back to July/August 1999 when I bought my first food mag in France and studiously translated some new terms. I am sure agitating is a little too literal for remuant. This first magazine contained a recipe for courgettes stuffed with calamari (which I immediately replaced with shrimps). I have since cooked with them with a mushroom and cheese custard as a side dish and think they can also handle a fiery chilli filling. After all, courgettes would have to be the blank canvas vegetable - such little flavour in its own right.
Bon appetit