Tuesday, 19 November 2013
I spotted several recipes for making 'spaghetti' with courgettes ages ago, but put them out of my mind due to the loss of my 'julienne-ing' device (basically a potato peeler but with a segmented blade). But when it miraculously reappeared in the drawer from which it had previously vanished, I took it as a sign. Of course courgette spaghetti is nothing like proper pasta, but it can be cut into long strips and doesn't fall apart once cooked. It's therefore ideal for gluten-free-ers, or anyone wanting a lighter alternative to a proper carbonara.
I don't eat meat, so actually I've never had a 'proper' carbonara, but this is my completely inauthentic pescatarian version.
Recipe (enough for two with leftovers):
3 medium courgettes
2-3 tblsp olive oil
1 egg yolk
Around 200g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 50g tin anchovies in olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
300ml creme fraiche
Around 100g finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Firstly use the most appropriate instrument you have to hand eg food processor, sharp knife, julienne peeler, to make your courgette spaghetti. Dress the courgettes with a couple of spoons of olive oil to stop any discolouration, and put to one side. Mix the egg yolk thoroughly with the creme fraiche, and most of the cheese, and add plenty of black pepper and a little salt. Make sure you have your garlic and mushrooms, prepped and ready to go. Firstly cook the courgettes a little- put a tablespoon or so of oil in a large pan (non-stick works well for this) over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add in the courgettes and cook for around 5 minutes. The courgettes should have softened but not be fully cooked through. Tip them out into a bowl and put the pan back on the heat. Next add the anchovies and all their oil into the pan, cook over a medium heat until the anchovies start breaking up, and then put in the garlic and mushrooms. Cook over a high-ish heat so that the mushrooms fry and take on some colour. Once they've done this, add the courgettes back in and continue to heat over a medium-high flame until they are cooked to your liking (they should hold together and not turn to pulp). When cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the creme fraiche mix. The residual heat from the pan should loosen this thick mixture, and coat the courgette strands. And that's it! Have a taste and add more salt and pepper if needed, and then serve with a little extra Parmesan on the top.
You can make this dish properly vegetarian by omitting the anchovies, and using something like chopped fresh basil or thyme, or some dried herbs instead; and by using a veggie-friendly Italian-style hard cheese.
This would make a great non-stodgy summer dish, when there is often a glut of courgettes about. But I ate it last week in November, whilst wearing a jumper, and that seemed to work fine too.