Seasonal local food recipe No.195 – Pasta and zucchini (courgettes) alla carbonara

Another quick, easy vegetarian dish for those of us who don’t feel much like cooking on a hot day. It comes from a delightful Rome-based food blog – Rachel Eats. Make it with some Cornish free-range eggs and the courgettes and basil in Camel CSA’s veg boxes this week.

Rachel says this is “a quiet and familiar lunch” which she makes a lot. If the courgettes have flowers attached, they should be washed, patted dry and torn into strips before cooking.

Serves 2
Preparation/cooking time: 10 minutes

200g good dried spaghetti, linguine or fettucine
2 tbsp olive oil
(optional – 60g pancetta or guanciale, diced)
a small red onion peeled and cut in thin half moons
2 medium courgettes, julienned (cut into matchsticks)
2 large fresh eggs
20g freshly grated parmesan
20g freshly grated pecorino
freshly ground black pepper
a handful of fresh basil leaves
good extra virgin olive oil and more grated parmesan for on top

“While your pasta is cooking you fry your onion until golden brown (if you are using guanciale you fry that first and then add the onion and fry for a couple more minutes.) Then you add the fine strips of courgette (and courgette flowers), stir and allow them to wilt. While the wilting is happening you beat 2 whole eggs with some finely grated parmasan and pecorino and plenty of freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl.

“Now, drain the pasta but save a little of the cooking water, then tip the hot pasta and a small ladleful of the reserved water into the pan with the onion and courgette – toss everything together. Next add the egg mixure to the pan along with the ripped basil leaves, remove the pan from the heat and stir everything together firmly but gently so the sauce thickens.”

Seasonal local food recipe No.194 – Allegra’s tortellini in brodo d’estiva

Another easy 10-minute meal – vital in the present heatwave – this time from Allegra McEvedy (via Guardian Cook). Try it with with the peas, broad beans and basil in Camel CSA’s veg boxes this week.

She says: This has long been my top fall-back supper: warming, nutritious, quick and indisputably yum-a-licious. Without meaning to sound like a smartypants… a decent [homemade] stock is both the vital background and making of this dish – cube or concentrate just won’t do on this occasion.”

Serves 2
Preparation / cooking time: 10 minutes

500ml chicken stock
150g ready-made tortellini
A few slices of red chilli (optional)
2 handfuls of seasonal veg such as mange tout or sugar snaps, roughly sliced; courgette, diced; peas or broad beans; french beans cut into batons; or broccoli cut into tiny florettes
A large handful of summer herbs, such as basil, mint and parsley
Lemon juice, to taste

To finish
Parmesan, grated
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper


Warm up the stock and, once steaming, drop in the tortellini and pop a lid on the pan. After 3-4 minutes, and when just cooked, add the veg of your choice. When the stock has come back to a simmer, turn the heat off and stir in most of the herbs, some seasoning and a little lemon juice to taste.

Ladle into warm, wide bowls and finish with a flourish of grated parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and the last of the herbs.

Seasonal local food recipe No 160: Melanzane parmigiana

This richly-flavoured Italian dish of layered cheese and vegetables is traditionally made with aubergines, but you can use the courgettes in this week’s veg boxes as well or instead. It’s delicious with a green salad and crusty bread. This version is from BBC olive magazine.

Serves: 4

Preparation / cooking time: 75 minutes

olive oil
2 garlic cloves , thinly sliced
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
1 small bunch basil, shredded
3 medium aubergines
2 balls mozzarella, sliced
a handful grated Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan, add the garlic and sizzle for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cinnamon and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened. Stir in the basil and season.

Slice the aubergines lengthways about 1/2cm thick. Brush both sides with oil, season and griddle (chargrill), turning a few times until completely tender (you could also do this in a non-stick frying pan). It’s important to get the aubergine as tender as possible, so give it time.

Remove the cinnamon stick and put a few spoonfuls of the sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Cover with the aubergine and mozzarella then repeat, ending with a thin layer of sauce (you’ll have roughly 3-4 layers). Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Seasonal local food recipe No.155: Courgette summer salad

I found this refreshing, summery dish while browsing through my Co-operative Food magazine (I like our friendly Wadebridge Co-op).

You can include the courgettes and the spring onions in Camel CSA’s veg boxes, but this week I’m afraid you’ll have to get the carrots elsewhere.

This recipe can be adapted in a number of ways. As I hadn’t got any sesame seeds, I sprinkled sunflower seeds on top. I also used juice from a whole lemon and omitted the honey. You could replace the spring onions with chives for a milder flavour.  

Serve: 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes

2 medium courgettes
3 medium carrots, scrubbed
1 large eating apple
Juice of half a lemon
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
2 handfuls (about 70g) of nuts and dried fruit (optional)
For the dressing
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
A little runny honey
2 tbsp sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

Grate the courgettes, carrot and apple into a bowl. Add the spring onions and nuts and fruit, if using, and stir together.

Mix together the mayonnaise, yoghurt and honey. Add to the bowl and stir. Sprinkle the seeds over the top before serving.

Seasonal recipe No 61: Courgette gratin

An excellent, tasty recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie Does book.

Serves 6-8 as a side

(half quantities makes a generous main for 2)

Preparation: 35 minutes
Cooking in oven: 40 minutes

2 tbsp duck fat or olive oil
3 onions, peeled and very finely sliced
180g basmati rice
7 medium courgettes, finely sliced
500ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
4 heaped tbsp crème fraîche
150g emmental or cheddar cheese, finely grated
salt and black pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Get a large frying pan on a low heat and add the fat or oil and a splash of water. Once melted and hot, add the sliced onions and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until soft and sticky. Meanwhile, rinse your rice under cold running water until the water runs clear.

When the onions look ready, add the sliced courgettes to the pan along with the rice. Mix them up, then pour in the hot stock. Turn the heat up and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the mixture to stay quite loose and oozy, so add a little more stock if needed. Take the pan off the heat and gently stir in the crème fraîche and 100g of your grated cheese. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasoning if need be.

Lightly oil a roasting tray, gratin dish or casserole-type pan, approx 25cm x 25cm. Tip everything into the prepared tray, making sure the rice is evenly distributed. Roughly flatten it out and try to get most of the courgettes on top to help keep the moisture as it cooks. Sprinkle over the rest of the grated cheese.

Bake in the hot oven for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbling and the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Serve next to grilled meat or fish and a lovely fresh salad.

Seasonal recipe No 9 – Grilled courgette, tomato and bean salad with basil sauce Ⓥ

There are plenty of tomatoes and courgettes in Camel CSA’s veg boxes this week.  This delicious salad is a firm favourite in my household, especially when we have grown lots of basil.  It comes from Jane Baxter at the Riverford Organics field kitchen.

Preparation Time: Overnight
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

200g dried cannellini or haricot beans, soaked overnight
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 courgettes, cut into ribbons 5mm thick
a small punnet of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the dressing:
1 bunch of basil leaves
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
a pinch of salt
100ml olive oil

1. Put the drained beans in a large pan, cover with fresh water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or so, until tender. Drain, season to taste and dress with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
2. Toss the courgettes with the remaining olive oil and grill on a ridged griddle pan (or under a hot grill) until tender and lightly charred.
3. For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whiz until smooth.
4. Gently mix the beans, tomatoes and courgettes together in a large bowl and add enough basil dressing to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning.

If you cheat and use tinned beans which have been rinsed and drained, this salad can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.

Nigel Slater makes a similar Courgette, tomato and ricotta bake, which also uses a generous amount of basil.  The first time I made this dish I had a “senior” moment and used mozzarella cheese instead of ricotta.  It was still very tasty!  He has lots of other ideas on how to use up a bumper crop of courgettes.

Click here to see all the recipes that Camel CSA members have recommended so far.

Seasonal recipe No 5 – Courgette frittata

A quick and easy recipe from Patience Gray’s Honey from a Weed. Tasty too!

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: about 20 minutes

Serves 2

3 or 4 courgettes
1 small onion
olive oil
4 eggs
1 dessertspoon pane grattugiato (crushed crumbs from oven-dried bread)
1 dessertspoon grated parmesan
salt, pepper

Wash, dry and dice the courgettes and chop the onion. Pour a little olive oil into an omelette pan, and fry the courgettes and onion on a quick fire until they brown, tossing them often, adding a minimum of salt.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with a little salt, pepper, some finely chopped parsley, and add the pane grattugiato and the grated parmesan. Pour the egg mixture over the browned contents of the pan and reduce the heat.

When the frittata is almost set, take a large plate, lid or board, cover the pan with it and reverse the frittata on to it. Then slide it back into the pan. Both sides should be brown. Serve at once, or let it cool and eat it on a picnic.

You can make a quantity of pane grattugiato (a good way of using up odd bits of bread) and it will keep well in a jam jar.

Have a look at these recipe suggestions on the eat the seasons website.

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