This courgette recipe is a real showstopper, says our kitchen garden cook.
Courgettes are one of my favourite vegetables. They’re easy to grow, fabulously versatile and enjoyed by the whole family. The main recipe this week is a real showstopper, so, next time you’re asked to take something along to a barbecue this summer, try this.
Spiral Provençal tart with Parmesan sauce and caper berries (serves 6)
225g plain flour
100g butter, cold and diced
A splash of ice water, if needed
1 aubergine, small
4 slices Parma ham
150g cream cheese with garlic and herbs
1 egg, beaten
50g grated mozzarella
50g grated Parmesan
1 clove garlic
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g grated Parmesan
A handful of caper berries
Start by making the pastry, ideally by pulsing all the ingredients in a processor until they come together to form dough. Alternatively, rub the butter and the flour together with your fingertips in a bowl until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, add water if needed and bring together in a ball, then tip out onto your work surface, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge until needed.
Cut the vegetables into long, thin strips using either a vegetable peeler or a mandolin, then blanch the carrot and aubergine slices in boiling water for a few minutes until they’re soft and set aside. Next, mix the cream cheese, egg and cheeses in a bowl, add seasoning and set that aside, too.
Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C/350 ̊F/gas mark 4, retrieve the pastry from the fridge and roll it out to line a 10in tart case. Trim the edges and prick the base with a fork. Line the pastry case with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and blind bake for 15 minutes. When cooked, remove the tart case from the oven, spread the cream- cheese mixture over the base and arrange the vegetable slices on their sides so you can see the coloured edges, adding the Parma ham among them. Start from the outside and work your way in until you finish with a tight spiral in the centre. Put the tart back into the oven for a further 45 minutes, covering it loosely with foil if it starts to look too brown.
While the tart is cooking, make the Parmesan sauce by mashing the anchovies and the garlic in a pestle and mortar, before adding the mayonnaise, lemon juice and grated Parmesan and mixing well.
Remove the tart from the oven, cut it into slices, then serve with the Parmesan sauce and a few caper berries on the side.
More ways with courgettes
Courgetti spaghetti carbonara (left)
Fry a few lardons of bacon and crushed garlic in a slash of olive oil in a pan until brown. Beat three eggs in a large bowl with 100ml single cream, add 75g grated Parmesan and the bacon and mix well. Spiralise 4 large courgettes, dropping the resulting strands of courgetti into salted boiling water for a couple of minutes, drain in a colander and then stir the sauce through it. Serve with added Parmesan grated on top.
Lucio’s stuffed courgette flowers
One of the advantages of growing your own courgettes is that you get to enjoy their flowers. Pick the small ones with the flower attached (you can also buy them in farmer’s markets) and wash them carefully, then fill with a mixture of buffalo mozzarella (broken into chunks) and a handful of frozen peas. Deep-fat fry until the courgette is cooked and the mozzarella melted. Squeeze lemon juice over them, season and eat immediately.
Speedy side of courgette salad
Use a vegetable peeler to slice 2 medium courgettes into ribbons, then toss them in a bowl with lemon juice and olive oil. Add seasoning, chilli flakes and a handful of pea shoots and mix again, then top with Parmesan shavings and serve as a side dish.