A friend gave us this recipe with the recommendation, “It uses loads of courgettes!”. Anyone who has ever grown courgettes will recognise the sentiment. Given some warm weather and a bit of sunshine, two or three healthy plants can produce more courgettes than you would think possible. Even if you don’t grow your own, if you wander down country lanes in many parts of rural England you’re very likely to come across impromptu roadside stalls where people sell their surplus garden produce on the honesty box system, and in August they will most likely feature sparkling fresh courgettes at absurdly low prices.
This is a very good way to use them. We grow yellow courgettes, but it works just as well with the green variety.
1.25 lb (approx 550 g) courgettes
2 oz (approx 50 g) spinach or chard
Half an onion, or two or three shallots
1 Tablespoon (approx 15 ml) olive oil
1 clove garlic
1-2 oz (approx 25-50 g) smoked bacon
2 oz (approx 50 g) long-grain rice
1 oz (approx 25 g) Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
Fresh basil and/or parsley, lots of (probably about 2 tablespoons or so when chopped)
Cut the ends off the courgettes and boil whole (or halved if they won’t fit in the pan whole) in salted water until soft. This usually takes about 15 minutes. Drain, then mash the courgettes with a potato masher. Beware the jets of hot water they try to spit up your arm. Put the mashed courgette in a sieve and leave to drain for a few minutes.
Cook the rice in boiling salted water until tender. How long this takes depends on the rice (follow the instructions on the packet). Brown rice usually takes about 30 minutes, white rice around 15 minutes.
Peel and chop the onion or shallots. Peel and crush the garlic. Chop the bacon. Fry the onion, bacon and garlic in the olive oil over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until starting to brown. Remove from the heat.
Shred the spinach or chard leaves. Grate the cheese.
Mix the mashed and drained courgette, the shredded spinach, the cooked rice and the grated cheese into the bacon, onions and garlic. Stir in the chopped basil and/or parsley and the beaten egg. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Grease a shallow ovenproof dish. I use a round heatproof glass baking dish about 8” (approx 20 cm) in diameter. Press the mixture evenly into the dish and level the surface.
Bake at approx 170 C for approx 35 minutes until set and starting to go golden-brown on top.
Serve hot with a green vegetable or salad of your choice. This quantity serves 2. You can double it up and use a bigger dish to feed more people. I have no idea if it keeps, because there are never any leftovers. I don’t think it would freeze, but I’ve never tried it.
*I believe the American for courgette is zucchini