Ceviche is a South American way of eating raw fish ‘cooked’ in citrus dressings. You can apply this process to the very tenderest of courgettes, sliced into ribbons and dressed instead with balsamic or sherry vinegar and fresh herbs. Eaten raw like this, alongside charcuterie, they make a very elegant start to a meal. This recipe really needs to marinade for at least an hour (30 minutes at a pinch) to let the flavours develop.
1 small courgette per person, topped and tailed and sliced into thin ribbons (a potato peeler gets the thinnest strips). For a very colourful effect use a mixture of yellow and green courgettes or summer squash.
Approx. 150ml dressing, made with 3 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part balsamic or sherry vinegar (I tend to slosh my dressing into a teacup measuring by eye).
small bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (summer savoury or marjoram would also be nice)
sea salt and pepper
Make the dressing, reserving a few leaves to garnish with. Place the courgettes in bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix well, cover and leave to marinade at room temperature.
Slow-cooked courgettes with lemon and mint
On the Greek island of Sifnos we came across a family run seaside restaurant where we ended up eating almost every night. The children played on the beach in the moonlight whilst we drank endless tin jugs of very cold white wine. This salad of braised courgettes was one of several vegetable first courses, along with the horta and salata horiatiki, that they offered. For this salad you really do need the smallest courgettes and as such is ideal for the home grower who can pick them whatever size they want (picking them small also avoids a glut). When you get bored of mint try dressing it with parsley.
Serves 4 as a side dish
8 – 10 small courgettes (10cm maximum)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed roughly with the flat side of your knife
6 tablespoon of olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint or parsley leaves
sea salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4
Top and tail the courgettes. Take a large heavy bottomed casserole and arrange the courgettes in a single layer. Throw in the garlic. Season and pour over a cup of water (200ml) and 3 tablespoon of the olive oil. Put the lid of the casserole and bake in the oven for one hour (turn over the courgettes half way through).
Take the casserole out of the oven, remove the lid and allow the courgettes to come to room temperature. When you are ready to eat them dress with the remaining oil and the lemon juice (add the latter gradually and adjust according to your own tastes).
Sprinkle over the mint and serve. Eaten with fresh bread and feta, this dish makes a light and simple lunch.