Courgette and Cheese Tart with Beetroot and Bulgur Wheat Salad

I’ve always struggled to build the right kind of relationship with courgettes. They are so easy to grow provided you have sufficient space. However some late summer they produce so many that it becomes a struggle knowing quite what to do with them all. On a good day I can pick 6 to 8 of them, only to find another crop just a few days later.

We recently had our first frost as winter starts to show its face and with that the courgette plants wither and start the process of becoming next year’s compost. Funny thing is, I miss them. I miss being able to pick my own and I refuse to buy them from the supermarket out of season. However if you are more relaxed about your courgette relationship you could try this tart

This is like a quiche but made with puff pastry rather than shortcrust. Despite blind baking to restrict the amount of rise in the pastry, it still takes on a life of its own. Very different to a traditional quiche or tart.

I served it with a salad made from raw beets, carrots and bulgur wheat.

To make the tart
1 onion – finely sliced
2 medium courgettes – sliced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
6 eggs
A splash of cream (optional)
1 pack of puff pastry – I use ready rolled for ease
150g crumbly cheese – Lancashire, Feta, Wensleydale all work well
salt and pepper

Put the oven onto 200C. Line a loose bottomed, metal tart tin with the pastry. This usually requires using two pieces of pastry so make sure there are no cracks in the join else the filling will leak through. Keep the off cuts for now. Pop a sheet of baking parchment over the base, fill with baking beans (or use dried beans or chick peas) to weigh it down, then bake for around 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the parchment. Let the beans cool and store them for reuse.

Meanwhile you can make the filling. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the courgette slices over a high heat. You want a little colour to develop as this adds some flavour to the otherwise bland courgettes. When browned and a little charred on both sides, remove and allow to cool. Turn the heat down and fry the onion gently until browned and starting to caramelise. Add these to the courgettes and allow to cool.

Beat 6 eggs with the cream if using, season to taste then add the cooled courgettes and onions along the the crumbled cheese. Pour into your par-baked pastry case. If you like you can use the off cuts of pastry to make a lattice top as per the photo. Brush with a little milk then place in the oven for 35-45 minutes until browned and the egg filling has set. Remove from the oven and from the tin and serve with the salad.

For the salad
1 medium beetroot
1 medium carrot
100g bulgur wheat
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
A very large handful of Parsley
salt

Boil a kettle. Pop the wheat in a bowl. Just cover with boiling water and leave until all the water has been absorbed.

Take a large mixing bowl and grate the beetroot and carrot. Roughly chop the parsley and add this then add the other ingredients including the cooked bulgur wheat. Mix well and season to taste

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Spiralised Butternut Squash with Courgette Polpette in a Rich Tomato Sauce

At this time of year the harvest from the allotment is at its finest. I can pick courgettes every day and still they keep coming. 2016 has been a bumper year for tomatoes and I have found the best way to store them is to roast them, blitz with a hand blender then pour the hot, rich, sweet, deep red sauce into sterile jars and seal.

This is a variation on my original courgette ball recipe which you can find jere, this time using butternut squash in place of spaghetti and a jar of roasted cherry tomato sauce.

To serve 4

Make the courgette polpette as per the recipe here. For a gluten free version substitute gram flour for the flour.

Put to one side.

Take 2 butternut squashes, peel, cut into large sections, deseed then run through a spiraliser. You may find your spiraliser struggles to get through. Mne scored the veg and I had to carefully tease the strands from one another.

Next make the tomato sauce. Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic, fry for a few seconds until softened then add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, a large jar of passata or, if using fresh, roast the tomatoes for 1 hour at 200C, blend then add to the garlic and oil. Simmer gently to thicken.

Place a large, deep frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, then add the butternut. Stir gently and fry for around 7-8 minutes until starting to soften. Add the courgette polpette then the sauce. Stir gently over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until everything is hot.

Serve with a sprinkling of vegetarian Parmesan style cheese.

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Pea, Mint and Courgette Soup

For those who grow your own vegetables you are no doubt all too familiar with the late summer glut of courgettes. Here is yet another way of using some of them up. Works well with the larger ones you forget to pick too as you can just simmer off some of the excess water they contain. If the skin is a little tough then peel it off with a potato peeler.

Makes enough for 4 people

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion – chopped
1 clove garlic – chopped
2 medium courgettes – cut roughly into chunks
3 cups of peas – fresh or frozen
1 green chili – optional
A large handful of mint – roughly chopped
vegetable stock – just enough to cover the vegetables
salt and black pepper to taste
Spring onions – sliced

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and fry gently over a medium heat until translucent.Now add the garlic and fry for 1 minute before adding the courgettes. Continue over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. You want the courgettes to be softened and starting to brown just a little. Too brown and your soup will lose the green appeal.

If you lie a little heat, cut a slit lengthwise into the chili and add that. Then add the peas and enough stock to just come up to the height of the vegetables. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes until everything is soft. Add the mint and stir until wilted.

Remove the soup from the heat and blend with a stick blender or transfer to a food processor. Blitz until smooth then return to the pan if required to heat through. Season to taste and serve with breads and the sliced spring onion.

For a non vegan version you could server with a little crumbled feta or a splash of cream.

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Zucchini Parmigiana

A courgette based version of my Aubergine Parmigiana. Simple to prepare and a tasty way of getting through that glut.

3-4 medium courgettes – sliced
1 onion – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
1x400g tin chopped tomatoes
a good wedge of sharp cheese such as cheddar and a ball of mozzarella
A few glugs of olive oil
A selection of seeds – sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, pine nuts

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. When hot add the sliced courgettes and fry, stirring and turning from time to time until nicely browned, charred slightly even. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a dish – one that you will later put in the oven – then add a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Now add the onion and garlic to the remaining oil and fry until softened. Tip this over the courgettes.

Cover the courgettes and onions with the tinned tomatoes, then top with the cheese. Scatter over the seeds then place in the oven at 200C for 25 minutes or so until browned and bubbling. Serve with green leafy salad, or garlic bread, or both.

Courgette and Manchego Tart

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Another way to use up some of the daily crop of courgettes. This makes enough tart to serve 4-6 people depending on what you have with it

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 courgettes – sliced
4 eggs
100g or so of manchego – grated
shortcrust pastry to line a flan dish – I usually do this as 6oz flour to 3oz butter, one egg yolk and a splash of water (apologies for the mixing of metric and imperial measurements)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Start by frying the courgette slices in batches. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, when very hot, place the courgette slices in a single layer – careful as they can spit a little. When browned, turn over until brown on both sides. Place in a bowl and fry another layer until they are all done. Leave to cool.

While the courgettes are cooling, make the pastry. I just chuck it all the food processor, roll out, line a flan dish, then blind bake at 180C for about 15 minutes. The courgettes still carry a lot of water even after frying to it is essential to blind bake the pastry else you’ll have a very siggy base. Allow to cool a little, then spread the Dijon mustard evenly over the base.

Beat the 4 eggs, then add the courgettes and manchego. Season with salt and black pepper. Mix, pour into the pastry case and return to the oven for about 25 minutes until the eggs have set.