Sunday, 29 April 2012
Zucchine Ripiene alla Mozzarella ( Stuffed Courgettes, with Mozzarella)
As she emptied her shopping bag... a shower of green leaves "flew" out: chard, three, maybe four bundles of rucola, followed by peppers (really big ones, very shiny and funny shaped!) and tiny, little friggitelli, the tiniest, cutest little peppers the child had ever seen!
At the bottom of the bag, four or five large zucchine: green, almost stripey and squeaky to touch!
She loved zucchine! Her mother said they tasted "fresh" in Summer. "Will we make Parmigiana with them?" "No"- Mamma replied "Oggi mangeremo le zucchine ripiene!" "No, today we will make stuffed courgettes!"
Having put all the green treasures away, mother and daughter (her little shoulders just above the height of the table top,) got to work, together.
The little girl watched her mother with admiration, as she scooped the pale green (almost white) flesh out of the beautiful zucchine. She knew that earthy smell very well, and she also knew that soon she would get the job of chopping the "bits" that mamma had scooped out of the courgettes .
Outside, it was very sunny and hot. Something told the little girl to savour this simple, ordinary, but at the same time precious moment, and hide it in the box she kept locked in her heart. You never know...
As I look out of the window, today, I see the world through a stream of water. Tiny drops of rain chase each other, as they make their way down the window payne.
It's been raining for days... day and night... night and day... incessantly... it never seems to stop. Will it ever stop?
I will find refuge in my little universe of scents, words in another language, memories and sunshine.
Today I will go back to that day, in our kitchen in Italy and will make the dish I was helping my mamma prepare.
2 fresh largish zucchine
1 slice and half, or a small piece of white bread
4 cloves of garlic
some Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1 generous tbs of capers in vinegar
5-6 cherry tmatoes (or
4 peeled plum tomatoes)
Wash your courgettes, trim the ends, then cut in half lengthways, and finally scoop the flesh out of the middle of each half ( I do this with a spoon or a teaspoon, as I find it easier than using a knife!)
Now you should have four courgette shells and a some beautiful translucent courgette flesh.
I could only fit three in my dish! I used the 4th one for
Cut the flesh into small cubes, then chop two cloves of garlic very finely and break your bread into small pieces (if your bread is not fresh, or is crusty, it should be quickly soaked in water and then squeezed, to get all the liquid out of it)
In a non stick pan (I have recently bought an excellent Jamie Oliver non stick frying pan, which I love! And I love him, too!) place 5-6 tbsp of olive oil. Heat and add your chopped courgette flesh and the garlic. Stir, as these two ingredients mingle in the pan, and the courgette begins to soften. Add your bread, cut into small pieces, stir and mix again. Now you are ready to add a whole egg.
making the filling
Using a wooden spoon, make sure all the ingredients are well blended and combined (the egg will do this for you.)
Finally, add a generous handful of Pecorino or Parmesan, some salt and lots of lovely black pepper and some fresh parsley. Cook until the egg is well incorporated, and finally add a teaspoon of capers. I added some pink peppercorns to my filling, as I like the way it looks and its flavour.
This is your lovely stuffing done!
Place your courgette shells in an ovenproof dish and divide the stuffing equally, between them.
Cut your mozzarella into cubes and gently push a few peaces of it into the filling of each courgette. It will melt and taste delicious as the dish cooks.
Place some olive oil (as much or as little as you like) at the base of the dish, followed by water, half the way up the courgettes. To the water, add some capers, some chopped garlic ( about two cloves, or more if you like garlic) two or three tomatoes, chopped, some grated cheese, salt, pepper and parsley.
Make sure that some of the cheese and some olive oil "land" on the top of your courgettes. I also like to put a few slices of cherry tomato on each.
Bake in a fairly hot oven 190C (375F-Gas5) until the courgettes feel soft and the finished dish looks golden. You'll know the dish is ready when you can smell the aroma produced by the ingredients of my lovely dish!
As you can see from the pictures, I served my zucchine on individual oval dishes, with a small portion of risotto made with zucchina and garlic, two towers of Savoy cabbage, which I love and, on the side, a salad (rucola, cherry tomatoes, pan fried gnocchi and pasta) served in a little dish I made from a tortilla bread.
I thought my dish looked really quite pretty. I really love zucchine! Did you know you can make Parmigiana (look up my Parmigiana recipe!) using zucchine instead of aubergine ?