Saturday, July 28, 2007

In the Bag - July

This is my first ever attempt at a food blogging 'event'. Each month, a selection of seasonal ingredients are chosen and food bloggers have to create a dish using said ingredients. This month's event is organised by Julia at A Slice of Cherry Pie and the ingredients in question are:


My slight concern here is that a) I only found the event today, and strictly speaking the entries are due in today and b) being such a novice at all this, I am not sure that I will 'tag' my entry properly and may therefore not be able to enter. Oh well - it is still a good culinary experiment!

Having just returned from a holiday in Provence, I was in just the mood for these ingredients. One night I cooked up an oven-roasted ratatouille from Delia's Summer Cook Book.
It was superb - I particularly enjoyed the way the vegetables kept their shape better than in the usual method. As Delia says, 'once you've tried it roasted like this, you'll never want to go back to the original method'. And I wouldn't want to argue with Delia. Anyway, I had also been wanting to try a recipe from BBC Good Food for stuffed baked courgettes - I LOVE courgettes. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine the two. I also made some basil oil just a few days ago which came in very handy.

The results were very good - all the flavours of the Mediterranean in a different-to-usual form. I was transported back to my holiday and after one bite, decided to take supper outside (a first for this summer, what with the awful weather we have been experiencing). Sadly, all hopes of an alfresco evening were dashed when, within moments of my sitting down, the rain started to fall. Oh well, if I can't have summer outside, at least I can enjoy a ray of sunshine inside with this dish...

Courgettes stuffed with aubergine and red pepper ratatouille

Ingredients (serves four as a side dish, or 2 as a main course)

2 courgettes (I used one green and one yellow)
1 medium aubergine
1 red pepper
1 medium onion
2 medium tomatoes
1 clove garlic
Half a red chilli (optional)
Handful of basil leaves
Olive oil
4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs mixed with 6 tablespoons of grated Parmesan

1. If possible, a few days prior to making the recipe, tear up the basil leaves and place in a jar with olive oil. Leave to infuse.

2. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Peel half of the aubergine (see notes) and chop into 1cm cubes. Place in sieve over a large bowl (to catch the juices). Sprinkle over 1 dessert spoon of salt, place a plate on top and weigh down for an hour. The salt helps to draw out the bitterness.

3. Meanwhile, half the courgettes and scoop out the middles with a teaspoon -

4. De-seed the pepper and chop into 1cm cubes, along with the chilli, if using. Do the same with the onion. Finely chop the garlic clove.

5. Make a small cross in the base of each tomato and pour over boiling water. Leave for one minute. Drain. Peel tomatoes and chop into 1cm cubes (no need to de-seed).

6. Squeeze any remaining liquid from the aubergine and dry thoroughly with a piece of kitchen roll. Place in a bowl with the pepper, tomato, chilli and garlic. Pour over a couple of tablespoonfuls of the basil oil, adding a little freshly torn basil too. Mix thoroughly with your hands so all is well-coated.

7. Stuff the aubergine and pepper ratatouille into the hollowed out courgettes. Place carefully in a baking dish and cover with foil.

8. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 200C.

9. Remove from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle over the breadcrumb and Parmesan mixture and return to oven for 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Notes -

I chose to peel half the aubergine as I find the skin to be quite bitter. Peeling half gives just enough flavour from the skin, without the bitterness. The salting and weighting down also helps.

I ate this as a side dish with a herby, chargrilled lamb steak. A delicious combination. But it would also be good as a light lunchtime meal.

Wine Notes -

I enjoyed this as a side dish with chargrilled lamb. It was perfect with a full-bodied rosé from the South of France.


Caroline said...

Why did I never think to infuse my olive oil with basil??!

Anonymous said...

That looks really good, we entered ITB for the first time this month too.

I love your plates with the stars on :)


A bit of a foodie said...

Thank you both for your comments.

Ginger - love your entry for ITB too. I haven't cooked with halloumi before and have been meaning to give it a try.

Glad you like the plates - they are from Bridgewater. I have a thing about stars, so not only are my plates starred, but I also have a collection of starry glasses! The plates are from Bridgewater.


Anonymous said...

I thought they were Emma Bridgewater, I love her stuff. It's very important to have a good selection of plates and bowls isn't it?!