There seem to be so many wonderful things in season at the moment. There’s all the summer abundance of fruit, berries, leaves and beans. Then there’s the exciting prospect of a more autumnal harvest right around the corner- blackberries, figs then eventually pumpkins, apples, cobnuts and game. So much to enjoy and so much to look forward to!
My greengrocer has been coming up trumps. I don’t know if the area is attracting a more discerning vegetable consumer (a belated Olympic effect, perhaps? The East End seems to be getting more gentrified by the minute), but suddenly I’ve got heritage tomatoes, baby aubergines and chanterelles on my doorstep. There are also beautiful courgettes, including the fat, yellow variety.
I think these in particular warrant a celebration and what better way than by turning them into the main affair? I first tried a version of this dish at Leiths for our ‘creative red mullet’ day by pairing thin strips of courgette with basil oil and pan fried fish. I love red mullet, but the courgette ‘pasta’ was a real revelation. I recognise that this may seem like diet food in disguise and I suppose it could be, but I promise you won’t miss the carbohydrate. However, if you do want to make it even healthier, tone down the olive oil.
You will need:
200g baby tomatoes
1 yellow courgette
1 green courgette
100g baby spinach
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small red onions, sliced
handful of basil, torn
extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juice and zest
Sea salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 190 C. Slice baby tomatoes in half through their middles (they look prettier that way) and place on an oven tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until cooked through and beginning to caramelise, approx 20-25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make your courgette tagliatelle. Use a wide peeler (like a speed peeler) to create thin slices of courgette, moving around the vegetable to get the right shape. You only want the outer, more dense layer of courgette (and the beautiful skins)- do not use the middle, water-logged seed-y part. You’ll end up with a long, rectangular bit of courgette, which you can discard or save for soups or stir fries.
3. Gently fry the onion until just soft. Add the garlic and spinach and heat until the spinach has just wilted. Off the heat, add the roasted tomatoes, lemon zest, basil, a drizzle of olive oil and season.
4. In a separate frying pan, add the strips of courgette with a splash of lemon juice and another drizzle of olive oil. You don’t want to fry the courgette as such, merely heat the strips through- the bite is part of the appeal.
5. Plate up the courgette and top with the tomato and spinach mixture. Finish with a grating of Parmesan and wolf down.