Call me pretentious, but I’ve always preferred the rather more exotic name of zucchini ever since I spent a year in Australia and learnt what the word meant, along with equally curious sounding at the time eggplant and capsicum. The word courgette I find somehow less inspiring, conjouring for me as it does dank fields, scruffy allotments and more often than not, forlorn abandoned and overgrown marrows.
My visit to the new Polpo Smithfield included my ordering and loving a simple zucchini side salad that was a complete revelation considering (bar fennel and carrot) I rarely eat raw veg, and consequently it became the dish that I rushed home to recreate. I’ve never cooked with the vegetable before, and only really eaten it in hearty ratatoullie style dishes, so I was thrilled with the fresh flavours, creamy and tender courgette becoming the star of the plate. I found the recipe in the absolutely delightful Polpo cookbook, which I plan to steadily cook my way through, it’s the first recipe book in a while that I’ve felt compelled to buy.
I decided to play with those same fresh flavours, I do like a theme, and so made some light little fritters that make a delicious accompaniament to chicken kebabs. Basil and lemon really lifting, but not overpowering the delicate flavour of the zucchini.
Zucchini Salad – adapted from The Polpo Cookbook
I didn’t really follow a recipe here, just very finely sliced three zucchini and tossed with a good amount of grated pecorino, plenty of salt and pepper, a glug or two of olive oil, handful of torn basil and the juice of half a lemon.
3 zucchini grated
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 egg beaten
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons grated pecorino
handful of chopped basil
Get as much liquid out of the grated vegetable as possible by wrapping in a teatowel and squeezing, then tip into a bowl and mix with all the other ingredients. Heat oil in a large frying pan, scoop up small balls of the mixture and flatten in the pan with a spatular then fry for around three minutes on each side until cooked through and crisp on the outside.