Friday, July 06, 2007

Spaghettini and courgettes

Professional food writers, if the evidence of their work is to be trusted, cook different things almost every day, keeping themselves endlessly supplied with new recipes. At the same time, they imply that their recipes are for dishes that they cook regularly ("We always have this with . . ."; "This is a favourite in our family . . ."). We home cooks tend to return to standbys. I do so particularly when I cook for myself. So: pasta again, for the second time in a week, with courgettes. There are similar recipes here and here.

Courgettes become soggy when they cook in liquid. For this reason, writers such as Richard Olney (you'll find his great work Simple French Food here if you scroll down) suggest cooking them at a high heat, so that the liquid evaporates immediately. I am not usually so punctilious.

For this dish, I put my two small courgettes, sliced into thin rounds, into a medium saucepan with a chopped clove of garlic, some dried chilli (whizzed), a little salt and a splash of olive oil, and cooked them over a medium heat, stirring regularly, for about seven minutes. You can tell when they're cooked: their white centres moisten and turn green. I added about three tbsp of double cream, bubbled it for a minute or so until thickened, and tossed this sauce into 125 g of cooked spaghettini. I sprinkled some Parmesan on top.

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