Tag Archive | gardening

Simple Courgette Pasta for Dinosaurs

dinosaur courgette

This is the giga-courgette. The latest in a series of giant courgettes to have grown apparently overnight in my garden. The picture includes an actual, genuine, totally-real-life dinosaur for size reference. (I found him grazing on my herbaceous border last week) I would call it a marrow except it’s not quite there yet. I have been very impressed with this year’s variety of plant that seems to let courgettes grow to mammoth size before they develop the texture and seeds of marrows. I would buy it again next year except I can’t remember for the life of me what it was called.

Excellent though all this is, it does leave me with a bit of a surplus. Which is ironic given that the inhabitants of this city are still reeling from “that month when Sainsburys didn’t have courgettes.” How we all survived that apocalyptic event I can’t fathom…

I’m pleased to say (not a little smugly) that my home-grown courgettes do taste nicer than the supermarket one, especially this yellow variety which is much sweeter. This means that I really want to enjoy them in simple recipes without a lot of flavour competition. The recipe below is really simple and great for summer. You can make this with any courgettes of course and it will still taste good, but if you do have access to a farmers’ market, organic store or a kindly friend with a courgette problem then I would urge you to try it with the nicest courgettes you can get your hands on. Even if that means wresting a dinosaur for them.

IMG_20170710_195534.jpg

Two normal sized courgettes from my plants last week

Recipe notes

I prefer using spelt pasta these days because it doesn’t stick together in the pan like lots of the gluten free ones do, however it’s not suitable for people with a serious gluten intolerance. Spelt pasta comes in white and brown, and the white version tastes just like normal pasta to me. Having said that, I actually prefer the brown as it is more flavoursome and filling. You can actually use any shape of pasta for these recipes but I find spaghetti works best.

I have taken to peeling courgettes instead of chopping them – you basically peel them like a carrot and keep going until there’s nothing left (mind your fingers!). They cook much quicker that way and I prefer the texture. If you have one of those fancy spiralizers you could also use that.

Since I am a fearsome carnivorous velociraptor I use bacon in this recipe when eating alone. If my herbivorous brachiosaur mate is joining me however, we substitute it with Quorn hot dogs. The flavour seems to work better than Quorn bacon for some reason. They come in frozen and non-frozen packets and as far as I can tell they’re exactly the same thing; we just use the frozen ones because they’re cheaper. They are not vegan however.

If you are using standard out of season courgettes for this and want to add a little extra flavour, a little green “FreeFrom” brand pesto works brilliantly to perk it up.

Ingredients (serves 2 hungry dinosaurs)

  • 1 giga-courgette or 2 smaller ones
  • 3 spring onions
  • 3 pieces of streaky bacon OR 5 Quorn hot dogs
  • Seeds – I use a pre-mixed packet of pumpkin, linseed, sunflower and sesame seeds.
  • Cashew nut pieces
  • Cold-pressed olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Approx 200g pasta – gluten free or spelt

 

Method

(Vegetarian instructions in green)

  1. Cook the pasta, following the times given on the packet. If using gluten free, heating it up in cold water (as opposed to using boiling water from the kettle) may help it to stick less. Remember to stir often throughout the cooking process.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, peel and/or chop the vegetables. Courgette pasta 2.jpg
  3. If using bacon, cut into little squares and fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Cook the hot dogs as per the instructions on the packet (for the frozen ones this involves removing them from the packet and microwaving for 2mins).
  5. Add the vegetables to the frying pan and cook for about 5mins until they soften. Courgette pasta 3.jpg
  6. Chop the hot dogs into pieces and add them to the pan about halfway through cooking the veg.
  7. Toss in a handful of chopped nuts and seeds. Fry for 1 minute.
  8. Add the pasta and stir it all up until it is thoroughly mixed and warmed through. Courgette pasta 4.jpg
  9. Plate up and drizzle over a little olive oil.  Courgette pasta 5.jpg
  10. Roar victoriously.

Courgette pasta 7.jpg

 

 

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Interesting times

“There is a curse. They say: May you live in interesting times” – Terry Pratchett

I haven’t written anything on here in a long time. I’m not sure why that is. Various reasons I think – a busy life, illness, a garden that is just too tempting to be ignored… I have been spending a lot of time reading instead. I have read fascinating blogs, articles and opinion pieces from all sorts of people around the world. I have read about my friends’ travels and have actually started taking an interest in the news again, for the first time in a very long while. It would seem that we live in interesting times.

About the most interesting thing to happen around here is my new cucamelon plant. This I obtained at great expense from the botanical hothouse of one Dr Frankenstein. I do not know the gentleman in question but I am assured that it shall grow magical fruits of great wonder, that will bestow upon me awesome powers of superhuman ability. I’m hoping for either super strength or the ability to shape-shift but time will tell. At the very least my loud protestations of “but you just don’t seem to be that interested in the cucamelons!” and my husband’s dry rejoinder of “that’s because I’m not” has afforded the neighbours some amusement.

Cucamelons.jpg

Awesome. Super. Powers.

I never mean to grow vegetables in my garden. It just sort of happens to me. Things self-seed and I can’t bear to get rid of them or I visit the garden centre for some cheap plant food but instead walk out with 3 different types of courgette, 2 cucumber plants and 5 packets of “interesting” looking seeds.

I tell myself that it’s silly really. I live in a rented property and making a proper veg patch isn’t an option. I haven’t time for an allotment so make do the best I can with pots and whatever I can sneak into the borders without the local snail population noticing. (The population whom, I am convinced, hold their annual general meeting among my salad leaves) By the time I’ve paid for the seedlings, soil and plant food the cost works out more expensive than if I’d just bought the vegetables from the supermarket. I try to get around this by only keeping unusual varieties or things that taste much better home-grown, but it’s still an expensive hobby.

The trouble is, I just can’t resist the lure of the dream. The dream of living on my own little hobbit smallholding in the woods somewhere and being completely self-sufficient. The dream of a magic, endless supply of delicious vegetables. The thrill of getting something for free. The oh-so-smug satisfaction of being able to say “why yes, I did grow those cucamelons myself, thanks for asking. Yes, they did grant me my powers of telekinesis. No, you can’t have one”.

First crop

Rose petals, strawberries and one teeeny courgette – my first “harvest” about a month ago.

Strawberries 1.jpg

Strawberries & baby chard planted in an old rusty wheelbarrow I found at the bottom of my garden when I moved in.

Courgette 3

First tiny yellow courgettes this year

Courgette 2

Monster courgettes that emerged, bizarrely, from a supposed “baby courgette” plant.

Courgette 1

With a teaspoon for size reference.