As promised, here's another Summer recipe featuring courgettes! The credit for this one goes entirely to my mum, as it is a dish she always makes around this time of the year that I have replicated faithfully (how could I have done otherwise?). The courgettes are cut in half and emptied; their flesh cooked with a touch of garlic and tomato purée, then mixed to sausage meat and Parmesan cheese to constitute the stuffing. They are baked in the oven until golden and are delicious eaten either warm or at room temperature, which makes them a great addition to the menu of pic-nics and (large Italian) family gatherings.
INGREDIENTS (serves three people)
- Three medium-large courgettes
- 150 gr of sausage meat (approximately three chipolatas)
- One egg, lightly beaten
- Two tablespoons of breadcrumbs (to go in the stuffing) plus more for scattering on top of the courgettes
- Two handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, same as above for the breadcrumbs
- One clove of garlic
- Two teaspoons of tomato purée
- Salt & pepper
- Olive oil
Slice the courgettes in half lengthwise and empty them of their flesh, using a spoon. Do this gently and be careful not to break the shells. Reserve the flesh in a separate bowl.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium hob, with a glug of olive oil. Finely chop the clove of garlic, then add it to the pan together with the courgette flesh and the tomato purée. Let it cook for about 8-10 minutes at gentle heat, until all the water has been absorbed and you are left with a thick purée, then season with salt and pepper. Leave it to cool completely.
In the same frying pan, cook the courgette shells in a little olive oil for about 7-8 minutes, or until they start to become soft but are still retaining their shape and texture. You may need to do this in batches if your pan is too small to fit them all in comfortably, do not overlap them. When they are ready, transfer them to a baking tray, where once again they'll all have to fit next to, and not on top of, each other.
At this point, the courgette flesh you will have previously cooked should have cooled down and will be ready to be mixed to the other ingredients for the stuffing, i.e. the sausage meat (make sure you peel the sausages you are using!), two tablespoons of breadcrumbs, the beaten egg and the Parmesan cheese. Add a pinch of salt, not too much because the sausage meat and Parmesan are already quite salty, two turns of black pepper and mix everything together, thoroughly.
Spoon the stuffing into the cooked courgette shells, filling them in evenly. If you have any stuffing left, you can place it on one side of the tray to cook it on its own, it will make a delicious little meatball :-)
Finish off by generously sprinkling each courgette with breadcrumbs and a little grated Parmesan cheese.
Drizzle them with olive oil, and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and bubbling on top. Leave them to stand for at least 10 minutes before serving - or as mentioned, they are also delicious at room temperature. Serve them with stewed peas and roasted potatoes for a substantial meal, with green salad for a lighter one, or place them between a sliced crunchy baguette or ciabatta for an usual but super-tasty sandwich!