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Archive for the ‘Courgettes’ Category

The end of summer holidays, everyone is back to school and the leaves already seem to be turning a rusty hue. However, the abundance of late summer vegetables such as courgettes, capsicums and tomatoes allow us to hold onto summer for a few precious weeks longer. I’m determined to fend off autumn for as long as possible and this baked chicken recipe with its summery mediterranean flavours is the perfect way to do it.

What’s great about this dish, is that you can mix it up, substitute the feta for halloumi, change-up the vegetables or experiment with different herbs. You can even leave out the olives or cheese if you don’t have them. Basically, it’s one of those helpful ‘use whatever you’ve got’ dishes. Even better, you just pop it all in a baking dish, whack it in the oven and pour yourself a wine while you wait for the chook to cook. And that’s what we all need when holidays are over and it’s back to reality!

 

Lemony summer chicken serves 2

Ingredients
– 2 courgettes, sliced in half lengthways
– 1 capsicum, sliced
– 2 chicken breast fillets, skinless and boneless
– 200g feta, thinly sliced (or halloumi)
– handful of Kalamata or black olives (preferably pitted)
– 5 sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 2 cloves garlic, crushed
– cracked black pepper
– lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon (unwaxed)
– handful of small ripe tomatoes (cherry toms are best)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F).

2. Lay the courgettes in the bottom of a baking dish. Place the chicken breasts, capsicum and slices of feta on top of the courgettes.

3. Sprinkle over the olives and sprigs of thyme.

3. In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, black pepper, lemon zest and half the lemon juice. Taste and add the rest of the lemon juice if you think it needs extra tang. Pour the dressing evenly all over the chicken.

4. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

5. Add the tomatoes and continue baking for a further 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

6. Serve with a simple green salad and a few extra lemon wedges.

Now, fingers crossed the weather improves this weekend and we can squeeze in a couple more BBQs!

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My friend H told me last week that one of the most annoying thing about trying out new recipes is that quite often she’s not sure what else she could do with the ingredients that will inevitably be left over, after having to buy a whole pumpkin for example but the recipe only calls for half. So I’m going to try from now on to keep this in mind and where I can (read ‘have time!’) I will suggest a couple of other easy things you can do to use up leftover ingredients. This I hope will make shopping easier and less wasteful and planning what to eat more enjoyable!

To get the ball rolling, I thought I’d add another courgette recipe to follow on from the Courgette Ribbons I posted previously. This recipe is a bit of a mash-up of two very tasty warm salads from Yotam Ottolengi’s latest cookbook Plenty (thank you Kirsty W – I use this all the time!).

 I’ve called it Warm Courgette & Couscous Salad and while it proved to be a very tasty and healthy option for dinner (especially with some grilled lamb, chicken or fish), it would also make a great lunch or side salad.

Warm Courgette & Couscous Salad
Warm Courgette Couscous Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients (for 2):
– sunflower oil (olive oil is fine but if you have a lighter tasting oil like vegetable or rapeseed that’s a better option)
– 1 medium courgette, sliced
– 1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
– 1 cup frozen peas
– handful roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
– handful roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
– 30ml olive oil
– half a cup of couscous
– boiling water
– couple of handfuls of rocket or watercress leaves
– 1 tablespoon capers
– grated zest of half a lemon (keep the lemon in case the juice is required to balance the seasoning at the end)
– 100g feta cheese
– sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a medium fry pan and fry the courgette slices for a couple of minutes until they’ve browned nicely then turn over and fry until golden brown on the other side (only turn once). Don’t crowd the pan as the courgettes will stew rather than fry, which you don’t want so do them in batches if need be. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl. Pour the vinegar over the courgettes and set aside.

Boil your jug for the couscous and the peas. Place the couscous in a heat proof bowl, pour the boiling water over until the couscous is just covered, give a quick stir with a fork then cover with cling film and leave for 10 minutes until all the water has been absorbed.

In another heat proof bowl, place the frozen peas and pour boiling water over these too until they’re covered. Leave to blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and refresh by running under cold water for 10 seconds. Set aside to dry.

In a blender or food processor, pulse the basil, parsley, salt and pepper and oil until you’ve got a smooth paste. Add more oil if necessary.

Once the couscous is ready, give it a good fluff up with a fork and place in a serving bowl big enough to hold all of the ingredients. Add the peas, courgettes and vinegar, the basil and parsley paste, capers, lemon zest, feta and rocket or watercress leaves. Mix everything together gently, taste and season with salt and pepper. Taste again and add a squeeze of lemon juice if you feel it needs a bit more acidity. Fresh, light and very healthy!

You can of course substitute the peas for broad beans or edamame (soya beans). The feta can be replaced by goats cheese for a milder taste or leave out altogether if you’d prefer.

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Two of my dearest friends back in NZ have recently become first time mums and I received the loveliest emails from them both this week full of baby news and the cutest pics of their lovely wee men which inspired me to make something with them in mind. Now, without any first hand experience of what first time mums go through and without wanting to generalise too much, I decided that I needed to pick something that would be quick, easy, nutritious and of course tasty that those on minimal sleep might not mind making and of course enjoy eating. Other consideration – as they both live Down Under, I wanted to use something that would be in season for them but wasn’t totally out of season over here (so that the odd sleep deprived elsewhere in the world might benefit from too). I decided upon courgettes.

Now before you all grumble booorrrring!!!. Let me explain why I like courgettes. Firstly, I like their sweet, delicate flavour and texture . As long as you don’t boil them until they’ve turned into a lump of waterlogged mush (which is normally the reason people don’t like them – school dinner memories anyone?!), they hold their flavour and texture well. Courgettes are such a versatile vegetable as well. You can pretty much do with them what you want – boil, steam, bake, char-grill on the BBQ…and as you will see below, they are also very pleasant raw too.

So here’s my ridiculously quick, flavoursome and filling Courgette & Pesto Ribbons which is  easy to whip up for lunch or dinner (especially if you’re on your own, it’s time to eat and inspiration to cook has completely deserted you). It would work equally well as a side dish or salad to have with a BBQ.

Courgette & Pesto Ribbons (for one)

Ingredients:
– 1 large courgette
– half a shallot, finely diced/almost crushed like garlic
– 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
– handful of fresh basil leaves
– few fresh sage leaves
– pinch of sea salt
– 2cm piece of leek, chopped
– 2 tablespoons olive oil

Wash and dry your courgette. Grab a vegetable peeler and peel the courgette lengthways to create long, thin pasta like ribbons. Set aside.

Add all the ingredients (except the courgette ribbons and shallots) to a food processor or blender and pulse gently until well mixed. Taste and season further if required. If you need to adjust the consistency, add a little more olive oil or even water. Play around with the other flavours as well if you want – add a few more basil leaves, a few more pine nuts etc until you’ve got it just how you want it to taste. You pretty much can’t wreck this!

Add the shallots to the pesto mix and then in a bowl, gently toss the courgette ribbons through the pesto to coat evenly.  Done! How easy is that?!

If you did want to make it a bit more substantial, you can add other veges and some type of protein like I did for my dinner last night (steamed broccoli and tofu).

Courgette & Pesto RibbonsSome ideas: cherry tomatoes and avocado, steamed asparagus, chop up and steam the rest of the leek or toss through some fresh rocket leaves, lambs lettuce or pea shoots. Add some cooked chicken or lovely goats or feta cheese and some tasty black Kalamata olives. Pretty much anything goes! Because it’s a tad cold here now, I also lightly  steamed the courgette ribbons and then softly patted them dry with absorbent kitchen paper to remove the excess water before tossing through the pesto.

 So I hope that this may come in useful to y’all (esp. Mands and Nicki). Thinking of you both lots. Oh and I hope you both don’t mind but I have to share this gorgeous pic of the boys – they are just too cute not too! Big hugs to you both. x

L: Lochie – nearly 3wks old. R: Hughey coming up 6mths.

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