Side Dishes & Canapes
Vegetarian & Vegan
As anyone who came to my cookery demos at various summer shows will know, I made a big discovery last year: that if you grate courgettes, they freeze beautifully. My bags of homegrown frozen courgettes turned into the star of the show at the demos, but although sadly I’ve now run out of those, shop-bought ones are still a really versatile ingredient. I love this quick pasta dish at this time of year, when I want something warm and filling but at the same time I’m longing for the fresh taste of summer produce. I’ve used sorrel - which even in January this year is still growing really well in my mini greenhouse - for the lovely lemony taste it adds, but you can leave it out if you can’t find any. Do add the basil though, as that really lifts the flavour. One big advantage of using grated courgettes rather than chopping them is that they need very little cooking to become tender, and that means they keep their fresh green colour better. There’s a celebrity cook (mentioning no names) who apologises on her website that her courgette pasta sauce is unattractive to look because to get the courgettes to the right consistency, they need to be cooked until they’re a khaki colour - but while I’d bow to her better judgement on most things, I have to say that she’s obviously never tried making her sauce with grated courgettes!!
Fry the leeks until almost translucent, then add the red pepper and fry until just tender. Finally, add the garlic and fry for another minute. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil a pan of water for the pasta and cook according to pack instructions. Dry-fry the pine nuts in a small pan until just golden.
Add the courgettes to the leek mixture and cook for 6 minutes, then squeeze over the lemon and season really well. Bubble for two minutes then scatter over the basil, sorrel and pine nuts and serve immediately with the pasta, and the parmesan.
To grate courgettes, the quickest way (it takes literally seconds) is to use the coarse grating disc on a food processor, but you can also do it on a box grater - it will just take quite a lot longer. Tip 2: this dish is also lovely using chopped walnuts in place of the pine nuts (no need to toast them first).