Sunday, July 17, 2011

Get Fresh

Hello everyone, I am here to report from the trenches of smugness, where one grows one's own vegetables and beams with the good life-y-ness of it all, trilling "you can do it too, it's SOOOOOOO easy". Sorry about that. But honestly, courgettes really do pretty much just grow themselves. One minute you're shoving this seed into the middle of a bit of potting compost and then the next you're wondering how many courgette recipes actually exist in the world and if this will be in fact enough to absorb the supply of courgettes springing up in your very modestly-sized garden. Along with the zucca, another couple of my garden efforts that have turned out to be bountiful are mint (no surprise there, it's well known for making its presence felt in a garden) and rocket. There is a quote on the front of Sophie Grigson's The Vegetable Bible that says it's "Perfect for veg box users". I would also contend that it's quite the bible for veggie growers as well. If your recipe repertoire is feeling a little jaded, then you can just look up recipes by the veggie to add interest to your haul of crops. What I really loved about this Moroccan-style courgette salad was that it epitomised a few of the reasons why I love having to go no further than your own back garden for some fresh vegetables. Firstly, I obviously tried a new recipe, and I like to pull myself out of my fairly unexciting cycle of old reliables. Secondly, people don't really grow their own vegetables because it's cheaper than buying them in the supermarket. Seeds are not cheap, and it is considerably less expensive and time-consuming to go and buy them in the supermarket (courgettes are currently going for €1 in my local Superquinn). But where I find the saving to be made is when you find yourself with a core ingredient or two from the veggie patch, you rummage around in the cupboards for something to bulk it/them up, make it all more interesting with some spices and there you have cut out a trip to the supermarket that may have started out just with the intention of buying that €1 courgette but ended up with minor change from a €20 note after a few more things caught your eye. Finally, it's also a good chance to combine a simple vegetable with bits and pieces in the bottoms of packets that may have otherwise ended up in the bin, and it's always desirable to avoid food waste. Smug? Me? Well...

The Moroccan buzz begins with some cumin and coriander. It's supposed to be 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, but I happened to be out of cumin seeds, so I dry fried my coriander seeds on the pan on their lonesome and made do with cumin in powder form.

My coffee grinder lends a hand with grinding up the coriander seeds. 

The simple, classic, failsafe dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper goes on standby in a mug.

From my abundant garden, some mint leaves from a plant that made an impressive comeback from the harsh winter snow.

So: some juicy baby courgettes took a one minute dip in some boiling salted water, followed by a nice refreshing spell under the cold tap. Then they go together with pine nuts, torn up mint leaves some of the spices and dressing.

While that little lot is cooling, out to the garden I trot for some rocket leaves, and they make a nice bed for the courgette mixture, with a good dash of dressing. Then on there with that lovely zippy courgette concoction, topped with some more mint leaves.

I don't know if it's the mint, the spices or all of that that wholesome grow-your-own fresh air, but this salad put quite a pep in my step.


  1. I think you deserve to feel smug - looks delicious!

  2. Heh heh...ah I don't actually feel smug, it's just that it always sounds so smug when people go on about growing their own veggies!