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Cover: Head Over Heels

July, 2012

23Jul 12

Zucchine al pomodoro

 

This is another simple summer dish. Once again the marriage of mint and courgettes gives this dish a slightly exotic, North African flavour,  so common in Pugliese cooking.

The secret however  is in the quality of the olive oil.  ‘Supermarket own’ just won’t cut it, I’m afraid.

If you are after a truly authentic Italian experience you will have to invest some time and money trying to source the best extra virgin olive oil you can find.

The main olive oil producing regions are Puglia, Tuscany, Liguria and Sicily.  Each with it’s own unique character and flavour.  Therefore your choice will depend very much on your taste (a little like wine) however I think it goes without saying that I would recommend using good quality extra virgin olive oil from Puglia,  if you wish to create the real thing.

This therefore may require a trip to a good Italian delicatessen. However once you have discovered your favourite oil you can usually buy it five litre cans making it far more cost effective.

The effort however will be well rewarded, I promise.

This recipe is made with fresh tomatoes and if you have any left over, you could always use them for a delicious Spicy Tomato Chutney.

Zucchine al Pomodoro
Author: 
Recipe type: Main dish, side dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A colourful summer dish that maximizes the flavour of fresh tomatoes, if these are not available however good quality canned tomatoes work just as well.
Ingredients
  • 2 courgettes per person
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g fresh ripe tomatoes/ or good quality canned Italian tomatoes
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Top and tail the courgettes (but keep them whole)
  2. Slice down the middle
  3. Insert a slither of garlic and a couple of fresh mint leaves
  4. Sautè the whole courgettes in olive oil, turning frequently until golden brown on the outside
  5. Add chopped fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  7. Cover and cook over a medium heat until the courgettes have softened

 

 

 

 

 

 

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19Jul 12

Zucchine alla poverella

Zucchine alla poverella
Author: 
Recipe type: Antipasto, Side dish (contorno)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A simple summer dish of fried courgettes which can be eaten as part of a selection of antipasti or as an accompaniment to a main dish of meat or fish
Ingredients
  • 800g Courgettes
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • White wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Slice courgettes thinly
  2. Fry in olive oil until gold and slightly crispy
  3. Drain on kitchen paper
  4. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with freshly torn mint leaves and salt and pepper to taste
  5. Add a glass of white vinegar to the cooking pan and cook slowly over a low heat for 10 minutes
  6. Pour the liquid over the courgettes and let them marinate for a few hours
  7. Serve at room temperature
Notes
If possible, weather permitting, the sliced courgettes can be left in the sun to dry for a few hours. This is the traditional method and gives the dish a slightly more intense flavour.

 

My first few posts will focus on the humble courgette or as it is known in Italian ‘zucchine’.

This vegetable is the one of the main stays of the Pugliese diet and is readily available in northern Europe too during the summer months although in colder climes it has a more delicate flavour. My father for example grows them in abundance in his garden in Somerset.  However they are usually only destined to be boiled as an accompaniment to a main dish.

In Puglia however I never cease to be amazed by the sheer variety of ways courgettes can be prepared and they are always incredibly simple, nutritious and deceptively delicious.

Just a little knowledge will turn this highly underrated vegetable into culinary alchemy. The most important requirement is that you use only the freshest and highest quality ingredients available.

This dish which can be served either as antipasti or an accompaniment to a main dish  requires little more than a few finely sliced courgettes (which can be left to dry in the sun for a few hours before hand  – sun permitting – to eliminate excess liquid and give a slightly sweeter intense flavour).

These are then sauteed in extra virgin olive oil until crisp and golden. Remove from the frying pan,  and place in a bowl and  sprinkle with some torn fresh mint leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

Add to the frying pan (and residue olive oil) a glass of white wine vinegar and cook gentle for 10 minutes creating a intensely sweet  liquid that is then poured over the courgettes  and left to marinate for a couple of hours.

Serve at room temperature.

If you’re looking for something else to do with your courgettes, what about Courgette and Leek Fritters?

 

 

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