Just as I was beginning to despair of finding uniformly good quality food in Northern Israel, produce at the Dohan Market in Karmiel began to improve. Perhaps their buyers have read my complaints?
However, instead of fantasising, I’ll report my find of the month:
Glorious globe-shaped, green-striped courgettes (zucchini) – a cross between small pumpkins or artichokes and baby marrows - which I was convinced were another piece of native exotica – until my trawls on the web revealed that they are also available in Britain.
But it was not until I had brought them home with a mountain of other greens – including regular boat-shaped courgettes – that I realized I did not have a clue what to do with them!
Reluctant merely to slice them for a bake or side dish I decided to treat them like gourds and stuff their innards. The recipe below, originally for stuffed boat-shaped courgettes, works commendably well but is far too much for the two globes in my experiment.
I will add garlic mushrooms to the remainder and use them for another meal in peppers or beefsteak tomatoes.
Note: I simply halved the suggested quantities for the original recipe from Classic Italian Cooking by Hamlyn Publishers which is designed to serve four as a very substantial starter or a side dish.
Stuffed Globe Courgettes
To serve two as part of a main course:
2 Globe Courgettes; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 1 small onion, finely chopped; 0.5 cup Arborio rice; 12.5 g/0.5 oz. butter or margarine; 25-50g/1 – 1.5 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated; 1 egg; 1 tablespoon milk; 0.5 tablespoon parsley, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cook the courgettes in a large pan of boiling, salted water for six – eight minutes. Drain and cool. Cut the off the tops and put aside. Use a sharp knife to cut round the inside of the other half and pull out the top layer before using a small spoon to scoop out the seeds and discard.
Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion until it is soft and golden.
Meanwhile cook the Arborio rice. I tend to ignore professional advice about cooking rice and find the ‘absorption’ method works perfectly, as it does for almost all grains: For this recipe I used a half cup of rice to one cup of water and a half-teaspoon of salt. I boiled the rice in the salted water from cold and left it on the hob with the heat switched off to absorb the water after it had come to the boil. It was ready use ‘tender but firm to the bite’ by the time I had prepared the other ingredients.
Place the cooked rice in a bowl with the butter, half the Parmesan cheese and the onion. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the milk and stir in the parsley with the remaining cheese. Season well and stir into the rice mixture.
Place the prepared courgettes in a greased ovenproof dish and pile the rice mixture into the cavities. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 deg C/400 deg F/Gas Mark 6 until they appear cooked – 15-25 minutes depending on the size of the vegetables and the strength of your own oven.