There is a whole field of courgette plants that I pass every morning with the dog. I have been watching the vegetables grow out of their delicate sunshine flowers and waiting for the day that I arrive and they have all been harvested. I really hope they don’t leave them too long. They do that a lot here. Leave the courgettes to get too big before they pick them. I know if you grow your own that it is difficult to keep up with the mountain of courgettes that the plants produce but on a farm there is no excuse.
There is nothing worse than big, fat, watery courgettes. You really need them when they are young, firm and still squeaky. Like these ones I found at the market on Sunday. These were only a euro for a kilo so I had to buy a kilo obviously.
Then you get home and realise you have a load of courgettes. One of my favourite things to cook with them at the moment is this crostata, we have it for dinner about once a week. A crostata is a freeform tart, an Italian version of a French galette. You cut a big circle of pastry, leave an inch or two border spread the base with some ricotta or yoghurt mixed with garlic & herbs, then make pretty concentric circles with courgette slices and brush with some herby garlic oil. You then roll up and crimp the edges and bake. It’s as easy as that, especially with this quick olive oil pastry recipe.
Serves 4-6 as part of a meal. Vegetarian. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
For the spelt olive oil pastry:
- 250 g spelt or wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried herbs (I used 1/2 thyme 1/2 oregano)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and herbs, drizzle in the olive oil mixing/mashing it in with a fork until well combined (a bit like crumble mix). Measure out the water then add an ice-cube to it. Slowly pour the cold water (not the ice-cube) into the flour and mix it in with the fork until just absorbed then bring it together with one hand kneading a little just until it forms a cohesive ball. Do not over work or it will be tough. shape into a flat disc, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge until ready to use. It doesn’t need long but will keep well for a few days like that.
For the filling:
- 2 firm small/med. courgettes, sliced into 1/2 cm coins on a slight diagonal
- 1 pot goats yoghurt (about 100ml) or ricotta or greek yoghurt
- a handful of grated manchego cheese (or parmesan/cheddar)
- 25 gr crumbled goats cheese or feta
- grated lemon zest 1/2 tsp
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 1+1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- fresh basil leaves, finely sliced (plus extra for garnish) or 1 tsp basil pesto
- salt & black pepper
Lay the courgette slices on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and leave to sit while you prepare the pastry & filling.
In a small bowl mix (or blend) together the olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, basil (or pesto) & lemon zest. Mix 1 tbsp of this in another bowl with the yoghurt (or ricotta), and cheeses. Season with salt & black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, turning it quarter turns as you go to stop it sticking, to a very rough circle about 2-3 mm thick. Take your largest dinner plate or serving plate, place it lightly on the pastry and cut around it, remove the excess pastry and keep it in the fridge if there is enough for another small tart. Remove the plate with a sharp knife and lift the circle carefully, on a floured rolling pin, onto the lined baking tray.
Leaving a border round the edge of about an inch or two, spread the cheesy mixture out evenly over the pastry. Dry the tops of your courgette slices well with kitchen towel and then start laying them, overlapping slightly, around the edge still leaving the border clear. When you have finished the outside circle start another circle going in the opposite direction just inside the first. Then overlap a few slices in the middle. See pictures above for these stages.
Drizzle and/or brush the rest of the garlicky herb oil all over the courgettes and then start to fold up the edges by turning the paper and folding and pleating as you go. Brush the pleated border with a little olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until bubbling and golden. Leave to sit for 5 minutes then scatter over a few fresh basil leaves and serve.
Serve with a simple lemon & olive oil dressed green salad or this delicious White Bean Mash. This is a very versatile recipe, you could easily switch up the herbs and cheese to use whatever you have in the fridge.
I know I said I bought a kilo of courgettes and I only used two of them in this dish and I also know that a lot of you are overrun with courgettes at certain times of the year so maybe, like me, you could have a go at making this deliciously light Zucchini Green Chilli Cornbread or these very moreish Baked Zucchini Fries as well.
Have a Great Weekend!!