All roads lead to the courgette this week, or zucchini, if you are Italian or Australian.
I subscribe to the brilliant Eat The Seasons which sends a weekly email newsletter outlining what is in season and suggests recipes for how to cook them. This week’s informed me that I could (and maybe should) be eating plaice, peaches, mackerel, rabbit and courgettes. Happily I had bought some of the latter, drawn by their colour and firmness, so it was just a case of deciding what to do with them.
The courgette and lemon pasta on the Eat The Seasons website sounded yummy, but something in a book that I am currently reading was pushing me in another direction.
Medium Raw, by American chef, traveller, TV personality and writer Anthony Bourdain is mostly a rant, mostly on people and subjects that are very US-centric and so I often feel like I am missing the joke, and a lot about his misspent youth and addiction to heroin and cocaine. My favourite parts of the book are where he actually writes about food (and wine).
“It’s another one of those agriturismos. They’re all over Italy, little mom-and-pop joints, for the most part thrown up quickly in farmhouses, private homes, on picnic tables under the trees – serving out of hearths, simple kitchens. This one’s in Sardinia, and what’s on your plate is the simplest thing in the world: spaghetti alla bottarga - pasta, tossed quickly with local olive oil (through which a cloe of garlic and a hot pepper have been briefly dragged) and the local salt-cured mullet eggs, which are the speciality of the region…
You wash this down with a sneakily compelling Cannonau - the local red whose rough charms have lately got a serious hold on you. You don’t care about the big Bordeaux anymore. The high-maintenence Burgundies with their complex personalities. The Baron Rothschild could back his car up to the door, trunk full of monster vintages, he’s drunk and offering them for free – and you would decline.
When you ask the proprietor where the wine comes from, he points to an old man sitting in the corner reading a soccer magazine, a cigarette dangling from his lips.
‘It came from him,’ he says.”
“It’s a fucking Everest of shellfish, an intimidating, multilevel tower of crushed ice and seaweed, piled, heaped – festooned with oysters from nearly Belon, and slightly farther away Cancale. there are periwinkle. whelks, palourades, two types of gargantuan crabs – their claws reaching angrily for the sky over the carcasses of many lobsters, a tangle of meaty claws…
Everyone is drinking wine…smearing local butter on little slices of the thin but dense brown bread before returning to the carnage that ensues when they grab a hold of a lobster tail and yank, with one jerking movement, tailmeat from the shell – one brutal movement – or gnash and suck their way through the broken carapace of a spider crab, dripping eggs and back fat onto their hands without care.
This too, is a good place to be. You will be in need of a nap after this. A small hotel by the port, perhaps. Pillows a little too hard, a redundant bolster, and sheets that smell slightly of bleach. The people around you, however, will be going out for dinner.”
Bourdain has a theory (that I totally agree with) that everyone should be taught the basics of cooking at school. He even has a list of techniques that all young people should have mastered by the time they leave home. One of these was the ability to cook an omelette.
I’ve recently fallen in love with omelette, helped by the fact that I have been spending a fair amount of time on a farm where the chickens seem to lay larger and brighter than life eggs. No other eggs taste as good after a few days eating these:
So, to cut a rather long-winded rambling introduction short, I decided to make a courgette omelette today.
Chop two small courgettes into slices – not too thick, not too thin.
Fry off in olive oil until there is some colour. I added two rashers of bacon, because there were some that needed eating, and two red chillies, because they came with the green olives that I was nibbling at while cooking. (Both are optional, but both taste good.)
Whisk two eggs. I never add milk – but if you like too you can.
There is debate about this next step. Should you add the courgettes to the eggs then pour the whole mixture back into the pan? Or should you pour the eggs straight into the pan?
I poured the eggs straight into the pan. Maybe moved the courgettes around a little. Turned the heat right down and let the eggs cook.
When the eggs are cooked around the edges and mostly cooked on the surface I fold one half of the omelette over the other half.
After a minute – done. Cut in half and serve.
I do like my eggs slightly underdone. Obviously I know the eggs are fresh and there is no reason why I shouldn’t be eating less-than-cooked eggs. If this isn’t the case for you then cook until you are comfortable.
I served the omelette with a big salad and the olives that I hadn’t yet eaten.
Other ideas… I really like courgettes and feta (add the cheese with the eggs) and a squeeze of lemon before serving. Or grated Parmesan, instead of feta, with a squeeze of lemon. Or forget the courgettes completely and add finely chopped cabbage instead.
Or, why not let the seasons decide for you?