Yotam Ottolenghi’s courgette recipes

A spanakopita-like filo pie with courgette instead of the usual spinach, and shaved raw courgettes that add bite to a seasonal salad

I associate courgettes with summertime holidays in Greece, where the pale-skinned, pear-shaped variety are sold by the roadside and had participated in every taverna. Fortunately, there are as many ways to cook courgettes as there are courgettes in Greece, and each has a different consequence: maximise courgettes’ freshness by serving them raw, marinaded, pickled or grilled; or roast or slow-cook for a creamier outcome. This spanakopita-like filo pie, in which I swap the usual spinach for courgette, is a nod to happy summertimes in the Mediterranean sun.

Courgette and herb filo pie( pictured above)

I’ve added cheddar to what is otherwise a straightforward Greek pie, because I find it ties everything together nicely, but feel free to use another cheese, if you prefer.

Prep 12 min
Cook 1 hr 50 min
Serves 4

1kg courgettes ( about 6 ), trimmed and grated
Salt and black pepper
20 g dill , approximately chopped
20 g tarragon leaves , roughly chopped
20 g parsley leaves , approximately chopped
4-6 spring onions , thinly sliced( 60 g)
2 eggs , beaten
150 g feta , roughly crumbled
80 g ripen cheddar , coarsely grated
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp lemon zest , finely grated
40 ml olive oil
175 g filo pastry ( ie, 7 39 cm x 30 cm sheets)
1/2 tsp nigella seeds

Heat the oven to 170 C/ 335 F/ gas 3. Mix the grated courgettes and two teaspoons of salt in a large bowl, then tip into a sieve and leave to drain for 30 minutes.

Wrap the courgettes in batches in a clean tea towel and wring tightly, to extract as much liquid as possible – you should end up with about 520 g courgette flesh. Transfer to a large bowl and add the herbs, onions, eggs, both cheeses, chilli, lemon zest, half a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper.

Line the base of a 23 cm spring-form cake tin with greaseproof newspaper and lightly grease the sides with oil. Lay a sheet of filo over the base, letting the excess to hang over the sides of the tin, and brush with oil. Top with another piece of filo, rotating it slightly so the excess hangs at a different angle, brush with oil, then recur three more periods, until you have used up five sheets in all. Set the courgette filling in the centre of the pie and even it out with a spoonful. Brush another piece of filo with petroleum, fold it in half horizontally and lay it over the filling, tucking in any excess around the filling. Brush with petroleum, then repeat with the last sheet of filo, angling it to cover any exposed fill. Fold over the overhanging filo, crinkling it up to leave a crumpled top, brush with more oil and sprinkle with the nigella seeds.

Transfer the tin to an oven tray and bake for 50 minutes. Take out of the oven, remove the outer ring of the tin, and cook for 15 minutes more, until golden and cooked through. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

Herby courgettes and peas with semolina porridge

Yotam Ottolenghi’s herby courgettes and peas with semolina porridge. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian

This is a standalone vegetarian main course that I return to time and again. The semolina porridge is like runny polenta, only a little creamier. You can replace it with rice or mashed potato, if you like.

Prep 15 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 4-6

50 g unsalted butter
5 garlic cloves , peeled and thinly sliced
1.2 kg large courgettes ( ie, about 6-7 ), trimmed, cut in half lengthways, then thinly sliced widthways
Salt and black pepper
200 g frozen peas , defrosted
25 g basil leaves , roughly shredded
15 g tarragon leaves
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
50 g pine nuts , lightly toasted
1 tbsp olive oil , to serve

For the semolina porridge
600 g whole milk
180 g semolina
100 g pecorino , finely shaved

Put the butter in a large saute pan for which you have a eyelid, and set it on a medium-high hot. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and fry for a minute or two, until it starts to brown.

Add the courgettes, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook for five minutes, stirring often, until the courgettes start to softened. Reduce the hot to medium-low, encompas and leave to cook for five minutes. Stir in the peas and warm through for a minute, until the peas are cooked, then take off the hot, stir in the herbs and lemon zest, and set aside while you construct the porridge.

Put the milk and 600 ml water in a medium saucepan, and add three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Bring to a boil on a medium-high heat, then add the semolina and whisk endlessly for three to four minutes, until smooth and thick, like porridge. Turn off the hot and stir in 80 g of the pecorino.

Divide the porridge between shallow bowl and top with the courgettes and peas. Finish with the pine nuts, a sprinkling of the remaining pecorino and a drizzle of oil.

Courgette, thyme and walnut salad

Yotam Ottolenghi’s courgette, thyme and walnut salad. Photo: Louise Hagger for the Guardian

This needs to be dished up the moment its built, before the courgettes start’ sobbing’ and losing their freshness, so don’t let it sit around for too long. It goes well with meat from the grill or alongside a bunch of meze.

Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
10 g thyme sprigs
1 lemon – peel finely shaved into 6 strips( avoid the bitternes white pith ), then juiced, to get 2 tbsp
1 garlic clove , smashed with the flat side of a knife
600 g courgettes ( a mix of green and yellow looks great, if you can find both ), trimmed and shaved into long, thin ribbons with a potato peeler or mandoline
60 g walnut halves , roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
15 g basil , approximately shredded

Put the oil, thyme, lemon peel and garlic in a small saucepan on a low heat and leave to infuse for eight minutes, until the oil becomes aromatic and the garlic, lemon and thyme start to colour. Take off the hot, leave to cool, then strain the oil into a large bowl. Pick the foliages off the sprigs and add to the petroleum; dispose the sprigs, lemon and garlic.

Put the courgettes, walnuts, lemon juice, a third of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper into the oil, then massage the courgettes for a minute or so- they will break up a little- then stir in the basil and serve at once.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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