The biggest courgette....ever!

>> Sunday, 11 July 2010

Did you ever play the game of ‘grandma went to the supermarket and bought……..’?!

It was a childhood memory game, the sort that drives parents doolally. You took it in turns to add to the shopping list, recite it from start to finish and then pass the challenge over to your competitor, with the loser being the person who forgot first.

Well, I did play it and I loved it! Memory specialists say that the easiest way to remember lists is to create a story out of it. I can picture supermarket shelves, trolleys and bustle so clearly in my mind that it was easy for me to create stories to remember these long lists and win the game. This ability is restricted to food and shopping only though – I’m pretty hopeless at remembering most other things....

Anyway, the list of ‘Helen went to the supermarket and bought…..’ doesn’t really change much week-on-week. The contents of my trolley are pretty consistent, unless I’ve been tempted by a new ingredient or "unbeatable offer" on an unrequired product. There’s the normal milk, butter, yoghurt, cereal etc.. and then the fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish and that’s pretty much it ( why does my bill cost so much?!)

This week, I started my visit as normal at the vegetable section, working through the mental list of must haves. Cherry tomatoes, check! Spinach, check! Sweet potatoes, check! Courgettes……………and there they were! The most ginormous courgettes I’d ever seen! Sold in Sainsbury’s value range, presumably because their marrow-like size was quite outside of EU regulation, I had to have them (I'm sure a less food obsessed person would not have been struck with this need to purchase).

....Wooden spooned use as a scale indicator....

I conducted the rest of the trip on auto-pilot, thinking what I could concoct with the colossal courgettes. Soup? Gratin? Salad? No! No! No! I then recalled a dish I cooked on a cookery course in Istanbul; courgette fritters. Fresh, crunchy, quick and flavoursome, this was the perfect recipe for these giants (I should state that normal sized courgettes work fine too).

You can make these start to finish in 15 minutes. I’ve served them stacked with a rich tomato sauce, but you could also serve them as a snack or side dish too.

Courgette and Tomato Stack (serves 2)

  • 1 large (2 normal size) courgette
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 red onion (sliced)
  • 1/2 red onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 60g self raising flour
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • pinch chili flakes
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning

Step 1: Pan fry the chopped onion in a little olive oil until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes and chili flakes and simmer for 15 minutes (whilst making the courgette fritters).

Step 2: Grate the courgette (including skin)

Step 3: Mix the grated courgette with the egg, cumin, flour, sliced onion and seasoning (to taste)

Step 4: Heat and frying pan with some olive oil. Drop spoonfuls of the mix into the hot frying pan and press down slightly to form the fritter shape (suggest 3 at a time - any more and you're liable to make a mess/burn them). Turn heat down to medium.

Step 5: After 4-5 minutes flip the fritters over (they should be golden on the reverse) and continue to fry

Step 6: Your spicy tomato sauce should now be thick and rich. Take 3 fritters and stack on top of each other, separated by spoonfuls of the sauce

Top Tips
  • You can adjust this dish easily to your taste preferences. If you like it spicy add fresh, chopped chillies instead of the cumin. Or you could stir a heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard through the mix to add some bite
  • If you're a cheese fiend, it will happily find it's way into this dish too. Pretty much anything goes but I'd favour torn mozzarella or some grated mature Cheddar (lovely with the mustard)
  • Fillings are also flexible! I like chopped cherry tomatoes, feta and avocado or ratatouille
  • Making for a big group of people? Cook in batches and keep warm in the oven. They can happily sit in their at about 140c for 30 minutes without spoiling. Alternatively, they taste great cold too!
Hope you enjoy,
Helen x

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