Monday, 27 June 2011

No green fingers

I’m not sure what’s become of my courgette plant. On Saturday when I last looked, it was standing strong, leaves aloft with a few signs of baby shoots and flowers – the promise of fruit – and today it is a twisted heap of limp, lying listless on the ground. To make matters worse, when I googled the problem, I was reminded that courgettes are ‘surprisingly easy to grow’…..grrrr.

I’m not sure if it was the cats or the slimers this time, but there are no dead slugs or snails in my carefully laid beer-trap (no, I’m not sorry, RSCPA,) and I’ve nothing equivalent for feline entrapment, so I guess I’ll have to lump it. One thing’s for sure: next year it’s going to be flowers, all the way – oh, and herbs seem to be ok. Vegetables just don’t seem to be my bag, and I haven’t got the energy for a Boggis/Bunce/Bean-style campaign against the plethora of pests on my block. Moreover, my potatoes are so tall they look like tomatoes (as has been pointed out several times); they resemble a healthy, leafy hedge, but alas, there are no goodies beneath.

A shame then, that I won’t have the glut of free courgettes I dreamt of as an excuse to make my new favourite thing, from Skye Gyngell’s How I Cook. We had this jammy marvel alongside a chilli-infused lamb shoulder and our green-fingered friend Joe’s new potatoes, freshly dug from his garden. They were so fresh they were crisp, like apples. I think I’ll leave the clever stuff to him.

Slow-cooked courgettes with mint

Serves 4-6

1 kg courgettes, trimmed

1 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped

1 dried red chilli

Sea salt

Handful of mint leaves, very finely chopped

Slice the courgettes into fine rounds (food processor slicer was practically invented for this). Put the butter and oil into a heavy-based saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts. Add the garlic and crumble in the chilli, stir once or twice, then cook for a few minutes until the garlic is soft, but not coloured.

Now add the courgettes with a good pinch of salt and put the lid on the pan. Cook over a low heat for 40 mins, stirring regularly to ensure that the courgettes do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Once cooked they should be very soft, almost fallen apart.

Stir in the chopped mint and serve warm.


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