The other day, a colleague followed me part-way down the corridor at work in order to compliment me on my shoes. I was, of course, flattered (particularly because they are very old, and slightly odd), but after very little time I found myself entirely at a loss as to how one is expected to continue a conversation about shoes. This is fairly shocking, especially given that I can have long and involved discussions about the best way to prepare courgettes. Only with appropriately vetted people, mind, don’t worry – I’m not that person.
When pressed for a definitive answer, I tend to plump for long, tagliatelle-esque ribbons. Although I wouldn’t dream of roasting anything other than ¼-inch-thick rounds, ribbons are far more fun to twiddle round a fork, and cook in no time at all. I suppose you could use a mandolin if you were the sort of highly organised person to have such a thing, but as we have managed to move into the only flat with a kitchen smaller than the one we left, I use a vegetable peeler.
Once you have ribboned all of the courgettes you currently own for the sheer pleasure of seeing if you can get all the strips to line back up into a courgette shape (no? just me?), by far the best thing you can do with them is turn them into either garlicky-courgettes-with-gruyere pasta, or these little balls of deliciousness. Strictly speaking they are a starter, but I have eaten them for dinner – on their own, off the baking tray, on those evenings where you have just enough time to strip 3 courgettes, mix up a big bowl of stuff and shape and bake your dinner before running out of the door. Cheese on toast would probably be the most time efficient option in these circumstances, but I do like a challenge.
The recipe is a River Cottage one, from here.
Ingredients, for around 12 balls:
3 medium courgette, ribboned as described
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of half a lemon
2 tbsp grated Cheddar
½ ball buffalo mozzarella, diced
As much chopped parsley as you like, up to around 1tbsp
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan) and line a baking tray with paper.
Fry the courgette ribbons and garlic in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, until they’re just golden. Once cool enough to handle, combine with all of the other ingredients, and shape into walnut sized balls. Bake for around 15 minutes, until golden.
Make ahead: Part-bake the polpette for 7 or 8 minutes, then cool and freeze separately on a baking sheet, transferring to a freezer bag once frozen. To re-heat, defrost, sprinkle over a little extra cheese and bake at 180ºC for 10-12 minutes, until golden. I would advocate making double quantities, so as to always have some on hand for emergencies, but shredding 6 courgettes by hand is considerably less fun than shredding 3.