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Cling to spring

I’ve been on my last straw for about 10,000 straws now, but the start of spring is enough to keep me going.

As is this week’s dish for romana courgette ‘trifolati’ and ricotta bruschetta.

Fresh but still carby. Creamy but still healthy. Ish. There’s nothing this dish don’t do.

This week’s album: 
Lost On The River by The New Basement Tapes

The New Basement Tapes are a sort of ‘super group’ comprising Jim James, Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith and Rhiannon Giddens. They formed in 2014 to make an album from recently discovered Bob Dylan lyrics from 1967. ‘When I Get My Hands On You’ and ‘Kansas City’ (which features Johnny Depp on guitar) are firm favourites.

Three things to tell you…

1. Courgettes are typically a summertime veg in the UK. BUT… Romana courgettes, from Rome/Lazio, are available from now through to August. They have a distinctive ridged shape to them, are slightly smaller than a standard courgette, and have a low water content which results in a deep rich flavour. In short, they’re perfect for this recipe.

2. We’ll cook the courgettes in a style called ‘trifolati’ - basically thinly sliced and fried/sautéed in olive oil with garlic and parsley. This style can apply to both meat and veg, and is a common technique used throughout Italy. We’ll keep things pretty traditional but swap out the parsley for mint, add a little chilli (which is optional), and pour in a small amount of vinegar for a touch of acidity.

3. Once you’ve cooked courgettes like this you can use them in a myriad (bought a thesaurus) of ways. This week we’ll add them to a bruschetta accompanied by ricotta, but they would also work with a number of cheeses, as a side dish to meat and fish, as part of an antipasti selection, or even just on their own.

Lots of other bruschetta recipes now line the dusty Eat My Words archives. Like this one with tomato and anchovy or this one with peppers, capers and mozzarella (above).

What you need

The below serves 4. It takes 10 mins to prep and 15 mins to cook.

3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium courgettes
2 cloves of garlic
½ dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
5g mint leaves
(roughly chopped)
4 slices of bread (ciabatta/focaccia/sourdough)
1 small tub of ricotta
Sea salt & black pepper

Ready, steady, cook

1. Slice the courgettes into 1 cm slices. Take one of the garlic cloves and, leaving the skin on, crush it gently with the heel of your hand. Place a large frying pan onto a medium-high heat. Once hot, add 2 tbsps of olive oil to the pan, followed by the sliced courgettes, garlic and dried chilli flakes (if using). Sauté for a minute or so, then slightly lower the heat and leave to cook for 10-15 mins (or until the courgettes have taken on some colour and softened). Toss the pan occasionally.

When happy with the courgettes, remove the crushed garlic clove and then deglaze the pan with the white balsamic vinegar and a couple of tbsps of water. Cook for a couple more mins until the vinegar and water has been absorbed by the courgettes.

Note: what is deglazing? It’s adding liquid to release all the sweet caramelised bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

2. Season well with salt (adding salt earlier would have caused too much water to be drawn out form the courgettes, preventing them from colouring nicely) and pepper. Leave to cool for a moment. Stir through the chopped mint leaves. Set aside.

3. When ready to serve, place a frying pan on a medium-high heat. Drizzle your slices of bread with the remaining olive oil and place into the pan. Leave them for a couple of mins on each side until they’re crispy and slightly charred.

4. As the slices of bread come out of the pan, and are still hot, rub them with the clove of garlic.

5. Transfer your bread to a plate, dot over spoonfuls of ricotta and then pile on the courgette mixture. Make sure to spoon over some of the juices as the grilled bread will soak them up perfectly. Finally, drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Final thought

This recipe makes four bruschetta but you can easily double or triple your courgette mix as it will keep in the fridge for a few days and only improve in flavour.

Speak next week.



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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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