Sultry weather signals the arrival of the courgette, that most summery of vegetables, says Simon Hopkinson.
Courgette terrine with tomato vinaigrette (serves 4)
500g courgettes, trimmed and grated
Half a teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 eggs plus 1 yolk
200g crème fraîche
1tbspn grated Parmesan
Scant tablespoon finely chopped dill
The merest scrap of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
A little softened butter
For the tomato vinaigrette
200g very ripe tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and chopped
2tspn red-wine vinegar
3 spring onions, well trimmed and finely chopped
Salt and pepper
4–5tbspn best olive oil
4–5 leaves basil, shredded
Mix the courgettes with the salt, put to drain in a colander and leave for 30–40 minutes, or so. Squeeze dry thoroughly in a tea towel.
Pre-heat the oven to 150˚C/300˚F/gas mark 2. Melt the butter in a roomy frying pan and gently cook the courgettes for 10 minutes or so, together with the cayenne pepper. Allow them to lightly gild, but also try to make sure that any excess moisture produced during this time is driven off by the heat. Tip onto a plate to cool.
Gently, but thoroughly, mix together the eggs, yolk, crème fraîche, Parmesan, dill and
garlic in a roomy bowl, then stir the cooled courgettes into the custard and rectify the seasoning. Oil a small loaf tin, place a length of greaseproof paper cut to fit in the bottom of it, then fill with the mixture.
Place in a deep roasting tin and add tap-hot water to come at least two-thirds of the way up the sides of the tin.
Loosely cover with a sheet of foil, then bake for about 30–40 minutes, or until just firm to the touch. Remove from the oven, fetch the terrine from the water and leave to cool.
To make the tomato vinaigrette, simply mix together the chopped tomato with the vinegar, spring onion and seasoning in a bowl. Leave to macerate for 10 minutes, then stir in the olive oil and basil.
To serve, divide slices of the terrine onto four plates and spoon some of the vinaigrette over them. Very nice eaten with grilled country bread that’s been rubbed with garlic and brushed with olive oil.
Courgette-and-tomato tart (serves 4–6)
1kg courgettes, thinly sliced (using a food processor is best, here)
2tspn sea salt
2–3tbspn olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
Half teaspoon dried chilli flakes
320g sheet all-butter puff pastry
8–10 medium-sized tomatoes (about 700g)
A sprinkling of herbes de Provence (or dried oregano)
A little beaten egg
Spread the courgettes out onto a work surface and sprinkle with the salt. Lazily mix together with your hands, then drop them into a colander suspended over a bowl. Leave to drain for 30–40 minutes, or so, turning them over in your hands now and again to encourage drainage. Pop them onto a tea towel, roll up and press down with your hands to extract excess moisture.
Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C/ 400˚F/gas mark 6. Note: please have a flat baking tray in the oven to heat up, so helping the base of the tart to crisp well as it cooks; you will also need another, similar baking tray (cold) on which to place the tart before it goes in the oven.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan until medium hot, then tip in the courgettes (you may wish to do this in two batches) and stir-fry until lightly coloured. Stir in the garlic and chilli, toss once more and tip all onto a large dish to cool.
Grease the (cold) baking tray and lay upon it the sheet of puff pastry. Prick all over with a fork (this helps the pastry to not rise too much) and spread with the courgette mixture up to about 1cm from the edge.
Thinly slice the tomatoes and lay them over the courgettes in an attractive arrangement. Gloss the tomatoes with a little extra olive oil and then sprinkle with the herbes de Provence or oregano. Finally, brush a little beaten egg over the edge of the pastry, then place the tray on top of the heated one and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are nicely burnished and the rim of the pastry is both crisp and slightly puffed.
Eat warm—and with a green salad, if the occasion suits.