Yotam Ottolenghi’s summer courgette recipes | Vegetables (2024)

Yotam Ottolenghi recipes

It’s time we gave courgettes the praise they deserve

Yotam Ottolenghi

Sat 29 Jul 2017 10.00 CEST

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Looking back on what I’ve written about courgettes in the past, I see that I’ve been too apologetic. I’ve always loved these baby marrows, but for some reason have felt the need to justify them. For example, my adoration of stuffed courgettes, which would definitely feature in my final meal, seems always to come with a disclaimer that they’re no thing of beauty once that vibrant green skin turns a dull grey after two hours in the pan. Likewise, I’ve somehow invariably explained away courgettes’ unerring ability to showcase a sharp lemon dressing or sorrel and pistachio pesto by saying that this is because courgette has an essentially bland and watery flavour in the first place. Many chefs I’ve worked with have held such negative opinions about these little moisture-packed cucurbits that my reaction has become reflex.

But no more: I don’t want to apologise, I don’t want to rationalise and I (still) don’t want to spiralise. I’ve decided to come out as an all-singing and all-dancing courgette fan. This is a vegetable we should be making the most of, whether we want its comfort in a cobbler or its lightness and, yes, beauty as ribbons tossed through a pasta or salad.

Courgette pappardelle with feta and lemon

This super-light and summery pasta is all about the courgette and lemon. If you can, use a mix of green and yellow courgettes, because they look very summery, but the dish is still impressive even if you can get only green ones. Serves four.

For the sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
3 tbsp oregano leaves
3 large green courgettes, cut lengthways into quarters, then finely sliced
Salt and black pepper
150g feta, broken up into rough chunks
100ml vegetable stock

For the pasta and courgette ribbons
30g unsalted butter
80g pine nuts, roughly crushed
2 courgettes (ideally 1 yellow and 1 green)
300g pappardelle egg pasta
Finely shaved zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 tbsp lemon juice
25g basil leaves, roughly shredded

Start with the sauce. Heat the oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high heat, then fry the garlic and oregano for one to two minutes, until the garlic just to starts to brown. Add the sliced courgettes, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper, and fry for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the feta and stock, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and leave to cook for 25 minutes, until the courgettes are soft, the feta has melted and the sauce is creamy. Turn off the heat and cover the pan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan on a medium-high heat. Once the butter starts to spit, add the pine nuts and fry, stirring, for a minute, until they turn golden-brown, then spoon the nuts into a small bowl, to stop them cooking any more.

Peel the yellow and green courgettes into long, thin strips (ideally, using a mandoline or potato peeler): you need 300g, so save any excess ribbons and add them to your next salad. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, then cook the pappardelle until al dente, stirring the courgette ribbons into the pasta water only a few seconds before the pasta is done. Drain, then return the pasta and courgette ribbons to the pan and stir in the sauce, lemon zest and juice, basil and a generous grind of black pepper. Divide between four shallow bowls, spoon over the reserved pine nuts and serve hot

Marinated courgettes with crisp freekeh and ricotta

If you’d rather not deep-fry, just omit the freekeh altogether; the marinated courgettes are lovely as they are, or sprinkled with chopped toasted almonds. Serves six as a first course.

3 large courgettes, trimmed, cut in half widthways and then into 1mm-thick ribbons (use a mandoline or peeler)
3 tbsp lemon juice (ie, from 2 lemons)
¼ tsp chilli flakes
½ garlic clove, peeled and crushed
35g basil leaves, roughly torn
60ml olive oil
50g cracked freekeh, rinsed and drained
150ml sunflower oil
120g ricotta
2 tsp za’atar

Put the courgettes, lemon juice, chilli and garlic in a large bowl, then toss gently with 25g basil, three tablespoons of olive oil and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for an hour.

Half-fill a small saucepan with lightly salted water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and gently simmer the freekeh for about 15 minutes, until it’s cooked but still has some bite. Drain, refresh under running cold water, then spread out on a plate lined with kitchen paper and leave to dry.

Heat the sunflower oil in a small saucepan on a medium-high flame, until the oil reaches 170C (if you don’t have a thermometer, you can check the temperature by dropping in a piece of freekeh: if the grain sizzles straight away, the oil is ready). Line a large plate with kitchen paper, for draining, then use a slotted spoon to lower a quarter of the freekeh into the hot oil and fry for a minute, until the grains rise to the surface and look brown and crisp. Transfer to the paper-lined plate (again using a slotted spoon), ensuring the grains are laid out in one single layer, then repeat with the remaining three batches of freekeh. Once all the freekeh has been fried, sprinkle over a quarter-teaspoon of salt.

Drain the courgettes and transfer to a serving plate. Top with spoonfuls of ricotta, the remaining basil, the fried freekeh and za’atar, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and serve.

Creamy courgette and tarragon cobbler

If you grow your own courgettes and have a glut, this is a wonderful way to use them up, being both summery and comforting all at once. I love the crunch brought by the walnuts, but leave them out, if you prefer. Serve as it is, with a crisp salad or alongside some grilled salmon. Serves six.

60ml olive oil
100g unsalted butter
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
10 courgettes, trimmed, cut in half lengthways, then into 2mm-wide slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
25g whole basil leaves
25g tarragon leaves
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-4cm chunks
100ml whole milk
40g parmesan reggiano, finely grated
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
50g walnut halves, roughly chopped into 1cm pieces

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Put an extra-large saute pan for which you have a lid (or use two smaller pans) on a medium-high heat, and melt the oil and 40g butter. Once the butter starts to foam, fry the garlic for a minute or two, just until it starts to brown. Stir in the courgettes, a teaspoon and a half of salt and plenty of pepper, and cook for seven to eight minutes, until the courgettes have shrunk a little, and started to take on some colour. Turn down the heat to medium-low, cover and leave to simmer gently for 40 minutes, stirring every once in a while, until the courgettes are completely soft and breaking apart. Stir in the herbs, then spoon the mix into a 20cm x 30cm ceramic baking dish.

While the courgettes are cooking, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Drop in the potatoes and boil for 17-18 minutes, until cooked through, then drain. Return the potatoes to the pan with 20g butter, the milk, parmesan, nutmeg, egg and half a teaspoon of salt, then mash until very smooth.

Spoon the mash into a piping bag, then pipe 5cm circles of mash over the top of the courgette mix, to cover it completely; make sure the circles sit close together, but stay distinct from each other (if you want a guideline, I made mine with three rows of six). And don’t worry if you don’t have a piping bag: use two tablespoons to shape the mash, spoon dollops on the courgettes and level out the top with a palette knife or spatula (the resulting dish won’t have that traditional “cobbler” look, but it’ll taste the same).

Melt 10g butter in a small saucepan, brush this all over the top of the mash, then bake the cobbler for 30 minutes, until the potato is golden-brown and the courgettes underneath are bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes.

Spoon the remaining 30g butter into a small saucepan on a medium-high heat and, once melted and starting to froth, cook until it starts to darken and smell nutty. Stir in the walnuts for just 10 seconds, spoon all over the cobbler and serve.

• Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.


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Yotam Ottolenghi’s summer courgette recipes | Vegetables (2024)
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