Stuffed, baked courgettes

I’ve been cooking this, or versions of it, for a few summers now. I really enjoy it because I think it’s everything a good vegetable dish should be – it’s not pretending to be meat, it’s using fresh vegetables with lots of flavours and, in the right quantity it’s really quite filling.

This recipe uses Lincolnshire poacher but other cheeses will definitely work and a combination of parmesan and feta is, perhaps surprisingly, very good. Likewise you can adjust the herbs, but use plenty and I think the sage is quite crucial and some kind of allium, so if not chives perhaps garlic.

In the picture this is with a stuffed courgette flower and some braised chard (An early crop from my new raised beds). I have a recipe for stuffed courgette flower with crab and you could use that recipe but replace the filling with a similar herb and cheese filling as for the baked courgette.

Serves 2 as a starter or part of a main course

Ingredients

2 medium courgettes (round courgettes work well also); 50 g hard, mature cheese (such as Lincolnshire Poacher); large handful of breadcrumbs; 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives; 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley; 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage; 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint; 1 tbsp lemon juice; olive oil; salt; black pepper

Preparation

Set the oven to 200˚ C. Cut the courgettes in half long ways (stem to tip), then scrape out the soft seedy pulp inside, taking care not to scrape all the way through to the skin. Set the insides aside.

Rub a little olive oil all over the courgette and sprinkle the cut part lightly with sea salt. Place in a roasting dish, cut side up and roast for about 10–20 minutes, until just starting to become tender, but certainly not cooked through.

Meanwhile, for the stuffing, squeeze some of the liquid out of the courgette pulp, chop, then place in a bowl. Finely grate in the cheese then add most of the breadcrumbs (keep back about 1 tbsp for topping), the herbs, lemon juice and a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

When the courgettes are just tender remove from the oven and fill the scraped out part with the stuffing. There should be enough mixture to fill each courgette and then at least the same amount again piling up above the courgette. Sprinkle over the remaining breadcrumbs. Place back in the oven and cook for at least another 20 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden and the courgettes are tender and cooked through. This goes really well with roast peppers and tomatoes.

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