Multi-coloured Courgette Canoes:

Multi-coloured Courgette Canoes:

As a vegetable dish, why not try multi-coloured courgette canoes.  This will turn the heads of most people – especially good for the veggie-types.

Prep:          1 hour (it’s not difficult, just an amount of fiddling…..)

Cooking:      1 hour.

Course:        Starter or main

Serves:        4

Rating:         2:  Easy

Find for two people:-

  • 4 medium sized green or coloured courgettes (as straight as possible)
  • Half of each a red, green and yellow peppers – as wrinkly as you like
  • Red onion
  • Garlic – I used 3 big cloves
  • Aubergine (optional)
  • Leek (optional)
  • Mushrooms (optional)
  • Cepes (optional)
  • Sweet potato (optional) – these ‘optional’ veg may be used as variations of the ‘canoe’ theme, alternatively, use a bit of each!
  • Oil (I prefer olive, but you use what you want to – except engine/baby)
  • Possibly pine nuts or sesame seeds to add texture to the mixture
  • Black olives for each end of each canoe, if you want to trim the courgette ends off.
  • Other bits I haven’t even thought of yet….give me time……
  • Oven (roasting) tin
  • Ceramic serving/oven dishes

METHOD:

  • Split the plumpish courgettes straight down the middle, lengthwise. Leave their ends on – or cut the ends off and use pitted black olives to bung up the open ends.  I like the olives…….
  • Spoon out the seedy middles so that you have about a 6mm (1/4”) thick wall of flesh all the way down the courgette. You can incorporate the middles in the mixture…..or not, as you wish.  I do.
  • Liberally sprinkle black pepper into the eight empty ‘canoes’, aad a small mountof oil and then season with sea salt.
  • I cooked them in a hot oven for 20 mins at this point.  If you prefer your courgettes to be firmer, omit this bit.
  • Here we go with the wrinkly ‘reduced cabinet’ peppers again. Put half of a green, yellow and a red pepper, cut into chunky squares, a couple of small red onions or one large one cut into quite big chunks, a few wrinkly mushrooms (they don’t HAVE TO be wrinkly, it’s just that if they are, it’s fine…), pine nuts or sesame seeds and the middles from the courgettes into a frying pan with a big glug of olive oil and fry until lovely and soft.  You might, if you have time, like to remove the skins (see Tricks’n’Tips) from the peppers first – whilst it lessens the visual impact of the colour it means that you don’t have indigestible pepper skins in the dish, eventually sticking to your teeth!…….  Your choice.
  • When the mixture is cooked down nicely, drizzle a little olive oil and tiny drop of water into each of the canoes and spoon the mixture in evenly. Heap it up.
  • Season well and put the filled canoes into an oiled roasting tin or oven dish sprinkled with water. It helps to have a container that is just big enough for all of the canoes, so that the courgettes are being held in shape and supported by the sides of the dish.
  • You can sprinkle with parmesan at this point, should you wish.
  • Pop ’em into a pre-heated 200 degree C oven so that the courgettes cook in their own steam for an hour or so. If you use a presentable dish, they come straight out to the table looking rather nice.

And there you are; pair of them on saffron basmati rice as a veggie main course, using any combination of butter-fried aubergine, sautéed leek, sweet potato, shitake/wild mushrooms and pine nuts as a filling, or anything else for that matter.  You have the use of the canoe as the container – fill it with something nice.

The pic shows them presented on lentils and baked aubergine slices, having been grilled for ten minutes.

Humus:

Humus:

Originally a middle-eastern dish, it is much better known here now.

It can be served as a nice starter or just a late-night snack.

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      0 mins.

Course:        Starter, lunch or snack

Serves:        AMAR  – as many as required – (1 can will feed 3 – 10 according to how much they eat – obviously.)

Rating:         2:  Easy

 

There are a great many differing recipes for humus.  The chick peas and Tahini are common to all.  Some have paprika, some have parsley.

Find:

  • Can of chick peas
  • 2 tablespoons Tahini
  • 1+ clove garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil for top
  • Fresh (curled) parsley if you can purloin some
  • Food processor or liquidiser

Method:

  • Open the can of chick peas, drain out the liquid and rinse the can contents under the cold tap. Drain well.
  • Put them into a liquidiser/food processor.
  • Peel and chop a clove (or two…. or three) of garlic and put together with the Tahini (creamed sesame seed paste, bought in a jar – see Tricks’n’Tips), about a couple of good tablespoons should do.
  • Pour into a container, add the lemon juice (no pips please; we’re British!) and mix well. Allow it all to settle and cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  • Pour a little olive oil on top and serve with toast, crispbreads, toasted pitta…..

 

Red Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tart

Photo:  Chris Wiles Photgraphy

Red Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tart

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Snack – veggie friendly

Serves:        4-6 (max 4 for main course)

Rating:         2:  Easy

Originally ‘invented’ because we had a very good friend (veggie) staying with us in France.  Being a veggie in France (and surviving the experience without getting bored by repeatedly being given salad) is not easy, and catering for one who eats neither meat nor fish is a problem; much more of a problem than in the UK.  But we did this:

Find: 

  • 1 roll of ready-made puff pastry
  • 4 large red onions, peeled & sliced thinly
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped as small as you can (or 4 small, etc)
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped/sliced/diced as you wish
  • 7, 8 or more good thick slices through a goat’s cheese roll
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • Good squeeze (or approximately one good ‘British Standard Dollop’ – see Tricks’n’Tips) of tomato puree
  • Olive oil
  • Splash balsamic vinegar
  • 1 glass (or 2, or 3…..) red wine
  • A beaten (or at least very demoralised) egg
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Large tart tin (300mm) – no comments about big tarts, please…..
  • Frying pan

Method:

You can do the onion mixture and make&bake the tart base ahead of time; even the previous day, should you wish.

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degs C.
  • Oil the tart tin, roll out the pastry onto it and press into the corners, making it look pretty. The pastry I used in France fitted the tin beautifully – it was cut into a circle already!
  • Use a fork to prick the bottom of the tart with lots of holes. You will need to bake the tart for a short time without anything in it (called ‘blind baking’), to ensure that the base is cooked through and it doesn’t end up having a soggy bottom.  No-one deserves a soggy bottom!
  • So, either using a pastry brush or a tablespoon, spread some of the beaten egg all over the very perforated inside of the bottom of the tart pastry. This will help to stabilise the pastry as it cooks ‘blind’.  You could use the baking beans procedure instead (see Tricks’n’Tips).
  • Pop the tart into the oven for about 10 mins. It does not need to colour very much at all or the exposed pastry could start to burn when the tart is actually being cooked.
  • When the tart base is just showing the slightest signs of colour, remove it from the oven. Keep the oven set to about 180C.
  • Put the butter, sliced onion and red pepper into an oiled frying pan over a medium/low heat and gently fry them off for about twenty minutes, avoiding them colouring up too much.
  • Keep stirring so that it does not start to become over-coloured (in other words ‘burn’). Keep stirring.
  • Put the can of chopped tomatoes into a saucepan on a medium heat. Add a good squeeze or a British Standard Dollop (whatever you consider that is) of tomato puree, a little red wine (as much as you wish – but consider that you’ll need to reduce it down; I use about 2 glasses), the chopped garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Stir over a very low heat to reduce all of this liquidy stuff down so that the resulting concoction is no more liquid than a runny paste.
  • Keep stirring the onion mixture. And then do it again. It should be caramelising by now.
  • Cut the goat’s cheese log into rounds. Or whatever shape it is (log or square or otherwise), chop it into slices.
  • Chuck a big teaspoon of sugar into the onion mixture and stir well, again. And again.  It should start to become more golden as you stir it.
  • When the tomato mixture has reduced sufficiently…. Now how can I tell you that, eh? Perhaps reduced to about half of the original volume?  Yeah, I s’pose.  It doesn’t really matter, honest.  It should resemble a paste rather than a liquid.

Of course, you can do this ahead of time; even the previous day, should you wish.

  • Ok, so pour the toms mix (whether it’s hot or cold) into the base of the tart and spread it about (if it comes out in a solid blob, you’ve over-reduced it…..put some water in) as evenly as you can.
  • Now pop the onion mixture (whether it’s hot or cold) on top, and spread it about as evenly as you can.
  • Make a few indentations in the onion mixture for the goat’s cheese. You want to put the cheese bits INTO not onto the onion mixture, or the cheese could dry out and you’d finish up with a sort of goat’s cheese biscuit on top!
  • Chivvy it all about until it’s about level and looks mighdy purdy…. (looks nice) and then stuff it in that hot oven for a while.  Hmmmm….
  • Look at it after 20 mins, but as like as not it’ll probably need 40 just don’t let it burn.
  • Bring it out and slice it; and gobble it all up! Or serve it with a nice salad.

Owzat?