Claudia Roden’s Sweet and Sour Minty Grilled Courgettes

Serves: 4

One of my favourite BBQ tricks is to toss sliced zucchini with oil, chilli and garlic and to grill alongside the chicken, pork, whatever.

It dials things up and shows a bit of effort.

This dish goes further and the addition of the ricotta is wonderful.

Nat absolutely loved the sweet and sour of the sauce and of course, it can all be prepared in advance.

Ingredients

3 courgettes (zucchini), cut lengthways into 1cm-thick slices
Olive or sunflower oil
100ml white wine vinegar
50gm sugar
1 tbsp dried mint
Salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Whipped ricotta

250gm smooth ricotta
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Grated zest of 1/2 small lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. For the ricotta, whip the ricotta with the oil, lemon zest and season.
  2. Preheat a grill to high. Brush the courgettes with oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt. Grill on the BBQ or on a griddle pan for about 10 minutes until tender and lightly browned in places.
  3. Heat the vinegar and sugar with the dried mint and some pepper in a small pan over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts, then simmer for 2 minutes to reduce it a little. Arrange the courgette slices side by side on a serving plates pour the vinegar dressing over them and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with the whipped ricotta.

Antonio Carluccio’s Insalata all’Abruzzese (Vegetable and Tuna Salad)

Serves: 4

This salad is a triumph of flavours: the combination of cooked and raw vegetables, the tuna, the whole thing.

(Yes, it is a summer salad and we had it in the tail of winter, though the sun was out and we had some good Italian wines to try.)

With a bit of toasted bread, this is a meal on its own.

Though next time I serve this, I hope it is part of a long Italian feast welcoming our family and friends back into our home.

That’s when the really good Italian whites and reds are coming out.

Bookmark this one. It is beautiful. And lockdown will end one way or the other!

Ingredients

300gm young zucchinis (around 4 small)
200gm green beans, trimmed (about a big handful)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
200gm tomatoes (around 2 tomatoes)
1 red pepper
1 red onion
150gm good canned tuna in oil, drained
8 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
8 basil leaves, torn
1 tsp dried oregano
1 – 3 red chillies, chopped
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Method

  1. Quarter the zucchinis lengthways, then cut into chunks. Cook the beans until al dente, drain and cool. Repeat with the zucchinis.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and remove the seeds. Halve, core and deseed the pepper, then cut into long, thin strips. Finely slice the red onion.
  3. Put the zucchinis, beans, tomatoes, red pepper and onion into a bowl. Break the tuna into little chunks and add to the salad with the anchovies, herbs and as much fresh chilli as you can take! Toss everything together, adding the olive oil, followed by the wine vinegar. Season and serve at room temperature.

Moroccan meatball tagine with lemon and olives

Serves: 4

For a low carb dinner, this is a fabulous recipe; flavoursome, exotic and filling.

I chose to type it up because it is a mince recipe (my favourite), it is healthy (less than 400 calories per serve) and frankly, it tastes like something you’d get at a Moroccan restaurant, let alone being a dish you’d prepare to keep trim or get trim.

The original recipe asked for lamb mince and lamb stock, though I changed this to lean pork mince and chicken stock respectively. It would be fine with turkey mince as well.

I also steamed and sliced in two zucchini at the end of the cooking, to add some greenery and fill out the recipe.

And of course cous cous with chicken stock and currants.

Eat well, feel good!

Ingredients

3 onions, peeled, roughly chopped
500gm minced pork (or lamb, beef, chicken, turkey)
Zest and juice of one lemon, then quartered
1 tsp cumin
1tsp cinnamon
Pinch cayenne pepper
Small bunch flat0leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Pinch saffron strands
205ml chicken stock (or lamb if doing lamb)
1 tbsp tomato paste
100gm pitted black Kalamata olives
Small bunch coriander, chopped
Cous cous (with chicken stock, currants and toasted, slivered almonds) or fresh, crusty bread
2 zucchinis, steamed and sliced and added at the end
Method

  1. Put the onions in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Put the mince, lemon zest, spices, parsley and half the onions in a large bowl and season; combine. Using your hands, shape into walnut-sized balls.
  2. Heat the oil in a tagine (or large pan/heavy pot) and add the remaining onions, ginger, chilli and saffron. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the lemon juice, stock, tomato paste and olives and bring to the boil. Add the meatballs one at a time, reduce the heat and cover, cooking for 20 minutes; turn the meatballs a few times during this time.
  3. Remove the lid and add the coriander and lemon wedges, tucking them in between the meatballs. Cook uncovered for another 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Add any pre-cooked/steamed vegetables, carefully combine and serve with cous cous or crusty bread.