Much as I loved getting away for a good summer break, the downside to going away for a lengthy holiday between June and the end of August is that you risk the vegetable plot going to pot and at best, miss out on the benefits of a sizeable chunk of the harvest. All that nurture and care from seedling to fruit can be lost in a moment of drought or neglect, or just because you are not there to pick the eagerly awaited produce.
Although we are lucky enough to have fantastic neighbours and friends who will willingly water our plants and ensure that the vegetables are picked and eaten (by them of course) before they rot, the input is generally minimal and we inevitably return to a jungle of untamed foliage and a crop which is on the verge of giving up in protest of the lack of love it has been offered!
And so it has been this summer……. By the time we got home from our two weeks in the sun, the French beans were done, the tomatoes were rampant, the onions were trampled, the greenhouse was impossible to enter for the greenery at the door and the courgettes were…… well…… you can see for yourselves…… monsters! The sweetcorn on the other hand had grown and flourished…… sweet and succulent and we have steamed and barbecued our way through every last kernel!
I had proudly grown a different variety of round courgette this year (in addition to the usual green and yellow long ones)….. they were amazingly versatile because of their different shape and were quite tender and delicious. Unfortunately, the generous crop that we had been beginning to enjoy before our holiday (and for which I had all sorts of exciting creative culinary plans) had by our return, dwindled to a single fruit on each plant. This was the same for our long courgettes! It turns out the neighbours thought they were squashes and marrows and consequently they had been left unpicked, so that we ended up with just a ‘handful’ of epic beasts!
This recipe comes out of the need to get creative with our over-large courgettes….. Mr GF (who has a particular love of cooking veg) had already stuffed and baked one with sausage meat and the rest seemed to be heading for the same fate, before I ring-fenced what was left for something a little more interesting!
Last year I had roasted some amazing Poblano peppers filled with a lentil stuffing. We had enjoyed them so much, that I decided to revisit and revamp the idea for stuffing the courgette.
Once peeled and deseeded (the skin on these monster babies was quite tough), the large round courgettes made perfect bowls for stuffing. The Puy lentils, mixed with a selection of vegetables, beans, nuts, cheese and herbs, worked magic to offset the neutrality of the courgette and to pimp it up into something extraordinary. Rich, dark and satisfying, the flavours and textures fuse together so that each mouthful is an exciting combination of soft, crisp, crunchy, creamy, cheesy, tart, sweet, earthy amazement. The goats cheese popped on the top adds an extra decadent dimension which marries beautifully…… a little creamy, rich treat which can be saved until the end or eaten little by little, slithered away to accompany each lentilly forkful.
I can’t decide whether the photos do the dish justice or not! But either way, be assured that it tastes fantastic and is one healthy bowl of loveliness!
I am sharing this dish with the following :
Cook Once Eat Twice – a new food blogging challenge with Corina at Searching for Spice, who is encouraging us to share those dishes which can provide us with sustenance for more than one meal. This courgette was so huge we got a good couple of meals out of just one fruit….. A word of warning though….. goats cheese is better reheated in the oven….. we microwaved to heat up the leftovers and ended up with cheesy goats cheese bricks on the top!
Free From Fridays with The Free From Farmhouse.
Giant Round Courgette (or Marrow) with a Rich Dark Puy Lentil Stuffing
- Prepare your cherry tomatoes by roasting as here, without the balsamic.
- Prepare the lentils according to the packet instructions by simmering in the stock for about 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked (but not mushy). Drain and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, saute the celery, onion, garlic and chilli in the olive oil until soft (about 8 to 10 minutes).
- Add the roasted tomatoes and tinned tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
- Add the marmite and stir through.
- Add the sweetcorn and then the kidney beans, cooked lentils, herbs and pepper, stirring thoroughly.
- Remove from the heat and cool slightly, before adding the walnuts and grated cheddar cheese and folding through the mixture to combine. Set aside.
- Prepare the marrow or courgette by peeling the skin (if tough), cutting in half and scooping out the seeds. Place in a large baking dish.
- Stuff the courgette/marrow with the lentil stuffing.
- Put 2 tablespoons water in the base of the dish and cover the stuffed squash with baking paper and/or foil.
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, or until the marrow/courgette is soft.
- Place the pieces of goats cheese on the top and return to the oven for a further 15 to 20 minutes (uncovered) to allow the cheese to melt a little.
- Serve hot and enjoy.