Saturday, 24 August 2013

Things to do with courgettes

Growing courgettes this year has made me realise two things: 1) how big a courgette plant can actually grow, and 2) how much fruit one courgette plant alone can produce. It's a good job that we like courgettes! Recently, many of our meals have centred around courgettes, so I thought I'd post a few ideas of things to do with them.



  • An obvious Summer classic, which is a good use of courgettes, is Ratatouille. This is the recipe I tend to use, as it's fairly simple, quick and tasty. I don't always serve with the sourdough, though. I like to serve it with white fish or lamb steaks. I usually make enough for four and then serve the rest the next day with some pasta.
  • I recently tried this vegetable & bean chilli as a healthier alternative to regular chilli con carne. It was really tasty, although I amended the recipe slightly: instead of 1 tbsp chilli powder, I used 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp paprika and 1 tsp ground cumin. I also used just one tin of chopped tomatoes and a smaller tin of butter beans, but it was still enough for about 4 people! I served it with rice. Leftovers were very tasty for lunch the next day.
  •  This courgette & tomato linguine is one of my go-to courgette recipes, although we tend not to have it too often because it is not as healthy as some of the other recipes I cook.
  •  I cook my recipe for roast mediterranean vegetables, garlic chicken and cous cous fairly regularly in the Summer - it is quick to prepare, easy to cook and very tasty! Since I published the recipe on Jo's Kitchen I have changed the recipe slightly, in that I tend to throw the chicken breasts in with the roast vegetables and cook it all together (for about half an hour), rather than cooking the chicken separately in a frying pan, which makes it even easier and healthier!
  •  If you get fed up of eating courgettes for dinner, my Master Gardener, Vicki, has a fab recipe for courgette and lemon cake!
  •  If you really get a glut all in one go (I picked three marrow-like courgettes the other day, and they weighed in at just over a kilo...), why not try this spicy courgette chutney? I thought I had mustard seeds, but I realised I didn't as I got to the point in the recipe where I needed to add them, so mine is probably slightly less than spicy chutney. As I had about a kilo of courgettes, I doubled the recipe in order to make a double batch. Yummy!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Recipe: Peppers Stuffed with Israeli Cous Cous

Although I am not growing any peppers this year, last week I ended up with quite a few because I'd bought a pack of four and then my in-laws gave me some more from their garden. I am, however, also getting quite a lot of courgettes now from my garden, so have been trying to think of new and different ways to use all my veg.

I think I was probably inspired to make this dish after watching an episode of Celebrity Masterchef recently, where someone made stuffed peppers in the mass-catering round. I decided to try and make my own tastier version, as apparently their stuffed peppers had been quite bland! 

I used Israeli cous cous in this recipe, but regular cous cous would also work. Also, I didn't have any lemons to add lemon juice when I made it, but I definitely think the addition of lemon juice would be a glorious thing, so I have included it in the recipe.

***

Serves 2

Ingredients
2 bell peppers, tops cut off and deseeded
2 tsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
1 onion, diced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 courgette, diced
100g Israeli cous cous
125 - 150ml vegetable or chicken stock
juice of half a lemon (optional)
handful of fresh herbs (whatever you have available - I used thyme)
salt and pepper to season

Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Put the peppers in a roasting tin and drizzle with half the oil. Cook in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until the skin is starting to brown.

2. Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions, and cook gently for about five minutes. Add the courgettes and garlic and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, until everything is soft. 

3. Add the cous cous and stock and simmer for about 8 minutes, uncovered. You can add water if it starts to get too dry. Add the lemon juice and herbs, stir and cook for a couple more minutes, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed/evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.

4. By this time, the peppers should be ready. Take them out of the oven and carefully move them onto a plate. Spoon the cous cous mixture into the peppers. 

5. Eat

***

As you can see from the photo above, I served mine with some homemade potato wedges. Yummy!

(Incidentally, did you know that potatoes are rich in vitamin C? Those 5-a-day people just don't want you eating chips all the time! I think we should all love the humble potato a little more!)

Next on the blog, I will be writing about some more ideas for cooking with courgettes. (Yes, we've been eating A LOT of them lately...).


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Garden update: an abundance of vegetables

Apologies that  it's been quite a long time since I posted here. I've been pretty busy with the studying, and also setting up a new history blog (because one blog is just never enough, right?).

I just wanted to check in though, and update you on my vegetable progress. We are starting to get a good stream of veg being ready now, and I've now got to the point this week where I actually didn't really need to buy any veg from the shops - there's enough from the garden to feed my husband and me for the week. Our plot is very small really, and there's no way we'll ever be self-sufficient from it, but it is a nice feeling that it is now starting to make a significant contribution towards our meals.

Freshly picked carrots
My first (rather fat) courgette
At the moment I've got carrots, courgettes, fennel and beetroot ready for picking and eating. I have some tomato plants in pots and hanging baskets, which have yet to fruit, and I have some leeks in one of my raised beds which will hopefully be lovely and big by the Autumn. My lovely Master Gardener, Vicki, has just given me a butternut squash plant, which I plan to plant today. I never got round to planting any potatoes earlier in the year, so I have bought a variety which I will plant this month (in a growbag) ready for Winter. I also have plans to plant some broad beans and peas (dwarf varieties) in November ready for next Spring. And I will probably grow a green manure in the other raised bed over Winter to rejuvenate the soil. My plan is to continually have things growing because bare space is just boring!