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Tag Archives: zucchini

Herby courgette pasta salad with feta and egg

I don’t want to overly bombard you with my apple sauce experiments, so it’s back to good old trusty pasta today.

I love the Sainsbury’s Little One’s site when they do recipes three-ways: for babies, for toddlers and for adults. For example for their creamy spinach and leek pancake bake (must try this) the filling is pureed for a baby, a toddler eats the recipe as is,Β  and adults get a surprise of smoky ham inside. These recipes give me a renewed enthusiasm for cooking for Nicholas when my enthusiasm is lagging. They encourage me to experiment with my tried and tested recipes, working out more toddler-friendly versions of them. While I love making dishes everyone can eat, I really do love making meals just for Nicholas.

One of my ‘go to’ summer recipes is a cold pasta recipe I came across in The Times probably more than ten years ago. It’s an Ann and Franco Taruschio invention and I believe it’s in their 100 Great Pasta Dishes book (but don’t quote me on that). It’s a wonderfully fresh and filling dish, perfect to make the day before, perfect to take to work for lunch, and perfect to take on picnics or to have as a vegetarian option at a barbecue. I’ve made it a couple of times for my Italian in-laws and they love it (always a good sign!). I’ll write up that recipe tomorrow, but for now, here’s my toddler-friendly version of it.

I grated the courgette/zucchini to cut down the preperation time. However, next time I’ll dice it, as grated it sticks to itself and is difficult to separate, and Nicholas tends to pull large pieces of it from his mouth.

The original recipe uses penne and it really does need a short tube-shaped pasta. I used tubetti rigati which are like mini penne. You could also use macaroni or cut penne into shorter tubes after it’s cooked.

You can cook the egg and pasta in the same water, you just need to make a calculation based on the cooking time needed for the pasta you’re using. My tubetti rigati take 11 minutes to cook, so one minute after I put them into the boiling water I added the egg, cooking them together for 10 minutes before draining everything.

HERBY COURGETTE PASTA SALAD WITH FETA AND EGG

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes 2 large toddler servings
Keeps for a day in the fridge

100g courgette / zucchini, finely grated
2 medium basil leaves, finely shredded
2 medium mint leaves, finely shredded
1 egg
50g tubetti rigati (or other small tubed pasta)
100g feta cheese
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of salt (optional)

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and gently lower the egg into it. Boil for 10 minutes. Plunge into cold water, peel and cut into 6 wedges. Cut each wedge in half.

Cook the pasta as directed on the packet. Drain and add a drizzle of olive oil to stop the pasta from sticking to itself. Put in a medium-sized bowl and cool in the fridge.

Squeeze the excess moisture from the grated courgette. In a small non-stick frying pan, cook the courgette for a couple of minutes over a medium heat. Take off the heat and stir in the basil and mint.

Add the herby courgette to the pasta. Mix in the feta and egg. Serve cold.

Variations:

  • chop the courgette into small cubes rather than grate it
  • add a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end

Cod in prosciutto with courgettes (adult recipe)

As promised in my previous post, the recipe for a great zucchini/courgette side dish. It goes fantastically with any fish and can turn a rather boring piece of poached or fried fish into something more special.

I came across this way of cooking zucchini through a Jill Dupleix recipe I’m fairly sure was in The Times when she was a food writer for them. Her idea of wrapping cod (or any white fish) in prosciutto is very yummy and a great way to avoid overcooking the fish. She has a cod in prosciutto recipe on her website but she serves it with cabbage (I’m not convinced I’d like it as much as the zucchini!).

Jill Dupleix suggests the variation of substituting the prosciutto for streaky bacon which I’m sure would work very well. When I made this a few days ago I was sure we had prosciutto in the fridge (I live with an Italian after all!), but when I came to make it I discovered it was pancetta. I used the pancetta without saying anything to hubby but after his first mouthful his critique was ‘Pancetta’s too sweet for this recipe’. And he’s probably right!

If I’m making this for other people I cut the fish into smaller pieces, as the recipe suggests, to look prettier, otherwise I just wrap the whole fillet. To wrap the fish, lay your slices of prosciutto horizontally on a cutting board overlapping a little. Place the fish vertically in the middle making sure very little if any of the fillet extends beyond the prosciutto at the top and bottom. Bring the prosciutto over on one side and then the other, folding in any excess.

The only thing I’ve changed from the original recipe is to omit seasoning the fish well before wrapping in the prosciutto. Sometimes I use some black pepper, but never any salt as the prosciutto is salty enough. The weight of the fish is also very generous in the original recipe; I usually use 150g more or less for each person.

I tend to always use caraway seeds in the zucchini rather than fennel. Caraway has a subtler flavour and hubby isn’t a great fan of fennel seeds. Why not try both and see which you prefer?

COD IN PROSCIUTTO WITH COURGETTES

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Serves 2 adults

2 cod fillets, 150-180g each
4-6 slices prosciutto
1 tbsp olive oil
2 courgettes, washed
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp fennel or caraway seeds
salt and pepper
a few sprigs of parsley to serve

Trim cod into neat squares or rectangles. Wrap them neatly in prosciutto. Warm two dinner plates in the oven.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan and cook fish presentation-side down first, until prosciutto is crisp (about 3-4 mins). Turn and cook until other side is crisp and fish just cooked through (another 3-4 mins).

While the fish is cooking, coursely grate the unpeeled courgettes. Heat butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a second non-stick frying pan over a med-high heat and toss courgette very quickly in the hot pan, adding lemon juice, fennel or caraway seeds, salt and pepper.

Arrange courgettes on the two warmed plates, top with the cod and some sprigs of parsley.

Variations:

  • Use any other white fish (haddock, plaice, etc.)
  • Use streaky bacon instead of prosciutto (you’ll need about 6-8 slices)

Other uses:

  • The courgette works well as a side with any fish

Zucchini bites

We had a fabulous four-day weekend in Bruges, and Nicholas had a great time toddling around practising his walking and his balance on the cobbled streets. There’s nothing like a mini family break to recharge the batteries. We ate lots of scrumptious things (and tried lots of Belgian beer!). Nicholas had his first taste of mussels and frog legs, and loved them both (oh and his first lollypop, given to him by a waiter). How proud am I that he seems to be turning into a mini-foodie?!?

So back home and back into the kitchen, but with some more enthusiasm for cooking. And today, one of our very tried and tested, and very much loved recipes made from a fabulous vegetable – zucchini or courgette (depending on where you’re from). You can do so much with this vegetable. You can grate them raw into a salad, slice and grill them, chopped into sticks and steamed they’re great with dips, stuff and bake them, or roast them in chunks. One of my favourite ways to have them is grated and very quickly fried with a little bit of lemon juice and caraway seeds; it’s the perfect accompaniment to fish (I’ll write up the recipe soon!).

I often add zucchini to recipes I make for Nicholas. It has a very mild flavour and so goes with a lot of things – diced finely into a minestrone, grated and ‘hidden’ in burgers, chopped and added to casseroles, or simply steamed and dipped into yogurt. I came across this recipe for zucchini tots and immediately thought they would be perfect finger food. And I absolutely love a recipe I can easily make a few servings of and put in the freezer for another day. I made some slight changes, rolling the mixture into smaller bites and baking them on a tray rather than using a mini muffin tin (which I don’t have!) and using cheddar cheese instead of parmesan to cut down the salt content.

You can easily make bigger ones for adults for a low calorie lunch (because of the high water content zucchini is super low in calories), and they’d be perfect to take on picnics.

It’s important to squeeze the zucchini after you grate it to get rid of the excess liquid (and it has a lot of liquid). The simplest way is to squeeze a handful of it over the sink. You can also put it into a clean tea towel and squeeze it. You really don’t need to measure the grated zucchini (the quantities don’t have to be exact); one good-sized zucchini should be fine.

ZUCCHINI BITES

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-18 mins
Makes about 15 bites
Freezable

1 cup finely grated and squeezed zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)
1 egg
1/4 medium onion, finely diced
1/4 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
Pinch of salt (optional)

Heat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put all the ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and mix until combined. Shape into small balls and place on the lined baking tray.

Cook for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variations:

  • add chopped herbs (chives, mint or parsley would all work well)
  • add crumbled feta

Tips:

  • Don’t use aluminium foil on the baking tray as the bites will stick to it and will be difficult to take off.
  • To make your own dry breadcrumbs, keep leftover bread uncovered for a couple of days until it’s hard. Break into chunks and chop in a food processer or blender until it’s fine crumbs. The breadcrumbs can be stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag for several months.

Mini beef burgers


I also think of these as mini burgers with hidden veg. You could add lots of different vegetables. Parsnip and sweet potato immediately come to mind, and of course onion. Cooking the vegetables first means you can cook the burgers fairly quickly. Of course, add which ever herbs you like, fresh or dried. If you don’t want to fry them you could bake them in the oven.

They’re a great finger food either on their own or dipped into homemade tomato sauce. Or keep them round rather than flattening them, and add them to pasta and homemade tomato sauce for a version of spaghetti and meatballs.

Another great meal to have in your freezer.

MINI BEEF BURGERS

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Makes about 25
Freezable

250g beef mince
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1/2 courgette/zucchini, finely grated
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 egg yolk
some breadcrumbs (optional)

Put the grated carrot and zucchini in a microwave-safe bowl together with 1 tbsp water. Cook for 2-3mins on medium until tender. Drain off as much liquid as possible.

Mix all the ingredients together except for the breadcrumbs. Season if you wish. If the mixture is too wet to hold its shape when formed into small balls, add some breadcrumbs a spoonful at a time. Shape into small balls about 3cm in diameter.

Heat a small frying pan over a low heat (otherwise the outside of the burgers will burn before the inside cooks). Place the balls in the pan, flattening them out into burgers. Fry them in batches about 5 minutes on each side until cooked through.

Variations:

  • add other vegetables like grated parsnip or grated sweet potato
  • use fresh herbs (chopped parsley or oregano)
  • use lamb mince to make mini lamb burgers

Other uses:

What other meals do you cook for your little ones with minced beef?