I was given a mammoth Courgette the other day. I didn't mind at all . . . we kinda like courgettes, and as long as they aren't overly large, there's still a lot of value in them.
Once they get too big, they get a bit too spongy for me. I prefer small to medium sized ones, but the larger ones are quite good to use to make tasty courgette loaves . . . such as the one I made last week.
Courgettes are probably one of the easier vegetables to grow, and in truth will take over your garden quite quickly. We never plant more than about half a dozen plants and we get plenty from them. If you plant much more than that . . . you have courgettes literally coming out your ears and find yourself scrambling to find ways to use them up. This year however . . . we got zip. The slugs ate all the plants when we were away in July. Hence the well meant gift from a friend . . . which we sincerely did appreciate very much.
Courgettes are one of those vegetables that will just about take to any flavours you want to put with them. I love that you can eat the blossoms . . . as well as the flesh. Both are incredibly tasty . . . depending on what you do with them. The other day I decided to use half of the large one, grated and baked into a tasty loaf . . . and then the other half I made into this delicious gratin.
It's simply wilted courgettes and onions, layered in a dish with both a strong cheddar and a parmesan cheese . . . a garlic cream poured over top . . . and then the whole thing sprinkled with crunchy homemade garlic and herbed croutons.
All in all . . . served up with a crusty loaf . . . it made for quite a delicious and simple late summer repast . . . there won't be many more of these if I am to trust that very tangible chill that I can already feel in the air . . .
Ahhh summer . . . you came to us too late and then left us far too soon . . .
*A Gratin of Late Summer Courgettes, Onions and Cheese*
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side
Something delicious to create when you've been gifted with an oversized courgette!
1/2 of a large cougette
(or 2 medium ones)
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and bruised
250ml of heavy cream (1 cup)
freshly grated nutmeg
fine seasalt and freshly ground black pepper
120g of strong cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
2 TBS finely grated Parmesan Cheese
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
a handful of crushed garlic croutons
If you are using a very large courgette, you will have to cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and discard them. Once you have done that, slice the courgette into half moons and place into a large microwaveable bowl. Cover with plastic cling film and cook on high for about 3 minutes. Remove and let stand for about 5 minutes. Place the thinly sliced onion into a microwaveable container, cover with plastic cling film and cook on high for about 2 minutes. Set aside for a few minutes. Drain the courgette slices and the onions well.
Place the cream and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat gently until warmed through. Let stand for 10 minutes to infuse. Remove and discard the garlic at the end of that time. Season the cream with a bit of freshly grated nutmeg.
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/gas mark 6. Butter a medium sized gratin dish. Layer half of the courgette slices into it. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Cover with all of the onions. Sprinkle with half of the cheddar cheese, 1 TBS of the parmesan cheese and pour half of the cream evenly over top. Lay the remaining courgette slices over top of all. Season lightly again. Pour over the remainder of the cream. Sprinkle on the remaining cheeses and cover with the crushed croutons.
Bake in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely heated through and the cheese is melted and the gratin is golden brown. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.