Who has ever grown their own vegetables? It’s very satisfying. Unfortunately, in our current flat, there is simply no space to grow anything (I don’t care what Jamie Oliver says – I am not growing tomatoes on my window sill). But my mum’s situation is a different story – she lives in gorgeous Sussex, and whilst she had a “town house”, she has an enormous garden. It’s full of fruit trees, berry crops and a large vegetable patch. I’m fairly sure that she could quite happily live without ever buying any fruit and veg. As my dad works abroad and my brothers and I have all moved out, she produces more fruit and veg than she could ever eat by herself.
(OK, not a photo of my mum’s garden – just another gratuitous photo of her gorgeous lurcher puppy, Dusky.)
Fruit is fine – my mum’s basement is crammed with jars of homemade jams. Veg is a little more tricky – certain veg freezes or pickles really well, but for things like courgettes (or zucchinis as they’re sometimes known) this isn’t really the best option. Another issue with courgettes, as many veg gardeners will know, is that you don’t just get one or two: you end up with dozens on each plant.
So, about this time of year, every time I visit my mum, she has a massive pot of courgette soup on the go, has courgettes for me to take home with me, and then cooks me something with courgettes as the headline act for supper.
My mum has been kind enough to share her recipe for courgette gratin with me, and I in turn am passing it on to you! This can be used as a side dish (yesterday, I got it with tuna steak and chips) or can quite happily stand alone as a main meal.
COURGETTE AND TOMATOES AU GRATIN
- Courgettes (sliced) – I imagine 2 or 3 should be fine
- Olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- Grated cheese (Mozarella or Cheddar)
- 4 large tomatoes (sliced)
- Grated Parmesan
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper if required
Pick a good quality cheese as this definitely changes the whole flavour of the dish. I’m sure you can use some different cheeses if you like: get creative. Brie tempts me, always. Or maybe Bavarian smoked cheese.
As for quantities: use your initiative when decided how much cheese to use in the dish. You need enough for layers in between your veg 😉
- Preheat oven to 190C.
- Arrange layers of sliced courgette, tomatoes and grated cheese in an ovenproof dish (layer it up a bit like a lasagne – courgette, tomato, cheese, courgette, tomato, cheese… until your dish is full!)
- Sprinkle top with Parmesan and ground black pepper. I think the cheese in this dish makes added salt unnecessary – I rarely ever add salt to my cooking. However, pepper is good in pretty much everything!
- Bake in oven for 30 mins.
- Beat the eggs and pour over the top of the courgette and tomato – it should distribute nicely throughout the dish, but don’t worry if it pools a bit. You might want to give it a gentle shake to encourage it down through the different layers.
- Put it back in oven for another 10-15 mins. And you’re done! Be aware that your dish will be VOLCANICALLY hot. Cheese has a habit of holding heat that is only matched by potato. So, you have been warn. Dish up, but mind your tongue!