Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quick ricotta and courgette lasagne

Courgette lasagne / Suvikõrvitsalasanje

We are still eating lots of courgettes in our house, and still no end of the courgette/zucchini season in sight. Not that we're complaining, however, as it's one lovely and versatile vegetable, as long as you don't let it grow into a full-size huge marrow. Here's another one of my favourite courgette/zucchini dishes - a simple and quick and creamy courgette lasagne. You'll need a 400 g jar of good tomato sauce - either home-made marinara-type sauce (say, this or this), or a decent ready-made one.

Creamy ricotta and courgette lasagne
Serves three to four
Adapted from BBC Olive (Quick courgette lasagne)

2 Tbsp olive oil
750 g courgette/zucchini (about 2 medium-sized fruits), coarsely grated
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
0.5 tsp (Aleppo) chilli flakes
250 g ricotta
a large handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese + more for sprinkling
400 g good-quality ready-made tomato sauce
6 lasagne sheets
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 200 C/400 F.

Heat a tablespoonful of oil in a large frying pan. Add the grated courgette, chopped garlic and chilli flakes. Season with a little salt. Sauté over medium heat until soft, stirring every now and then. Remove from the heat, fold in the ricotta cheese, chopped basil and 3 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese.

Take a small oven dish (mine is 25x35 cm). Spread about a third of the ricotta-courgette mixture at the bottom, then spoon a quarter of the tomato sauce on top. Cover with three lasagne sheets. Then half of the remaining ricotta-courgette mixture, a third of the remaining tomato sauce, lasagne sheets. Top with the remaining ricotta-courgette mixture and then the rest of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated 200 C/400 F oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the lasagne is cooked and the topping "bubbles".

Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

More favourite courgette/zucchini recipes:
Courgette and Parmesan tart @ Nami-Nami
Courgette salad with poppyseeds @ Nami-Nami
Courgette cake with lemon frosting (Lemon and Zucchini Cake) @ Nami-Nami
Oven-baked zucchini and tomatoes with feta @ Nami-Nami
Estonian courgette and cheese soup (Zucchini and Cheese Soup) @ Nami-Nami
Greek Zucchini Pie (Kourkouto) @ Nami-Nami
Roasted marrow with garlic and herbs @ Nami-Nami

Courgette/Zucchini lasagne recipes:
Creamy courgette lasagne @ The English Kitchen
Angela's Zucchini lasagna @ The Italian Dish
Carrot, Courgette, Ricotta lasagne @ Apple and Spice
Ricotta, courgette and spinach lasagne @ Chilli Marmalade
Vegetable lasagna @ Inspired Taste
Kale, zucchini lasagna$5 Dinners
Spinach and courgette lasagne @ My French Kitchen

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Courgette salad recipe (Shredded Zucchini Salad)

Courgettes Zucchini

We've got just three summer squash plants this year, and gosh, have they've supplied our family well. I harvest one or two good-sized courgettes (zucchini) every other day and I've been cooking all our family favourites on a regular basis (see recipe links at the end of the post).

I've also been discovering new and novel ways of using the zucchini. Nigel Slater's courgettes with dill cream were a huge hit (bigger with adults than kids, I must admit), as was this (raw, gluten-free and vegan) courgette/zucchini salad from BBC Good Food. The grated courgette salad was new as well as novel - although I had made zucchini "carpaccio" salads before, I had never shredded/grated a courgette for a salad.


Suvikõrvits. Courgette. Zucchini.
One of this year's prolific summer squashes in our garden. 

Shredded courgette salad
Adapted from BBC Good Food
(Särtsakas suvikõrvitsasalat)
Serves 4 to 6

Suvikõrvitsasalat. Zucchini salad. Courgette salad.

3 - 4 young courgettes/zucchini (about 1 kg in total)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp poppy seeds or black onion seeds or black sesame seeds
1 garlic clove, finely grated
juice of half a lime
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the courgettes, grate/shred coarsely (I used the coarse grater blade of my food processor). Put the grated courgettes into a large colander, sprinkle with about a teaspoonful of salt, mix gently. Leave for 30 minutes, to get rid of excess water. Then squeeze with your hands to get rid of even more liquid and transfer into a large bowl.

Dress the courgettes with olive oil, garlic, lime juice, poppy seeds and black pepper. Toss to combine and serve.

More favourite courgette/zucchini recipes:
Courgette and Parmesan tart @ Nami-Nami
Courgette cake with lemon frosting (Lemon and Zucchini Cake) @ Nami-Nami
Oven-baked zucchini and tomatoes with feta @ Nami-Nami
Estonian courgette and cheese soup (Zucchini and Cheese Soup) @ Nami-Nami
Greek Zucchini Pie (Kourkouto) @ Nami-Nami
Roasted marrow with garlic and herbs @ Nami-Nami

See also:
Zucchini cake with crunchy lemon glaze @ David Lebovitz
Zucchini stuffed with freekeh @ Sarah Melamed
Zucchini bake with feta and thyme @ Kalyn's Kitchen
Zucchini and carrot ribbons @ A Veggie Venture
Zucchini, pancetta and farro salad @ Lucullian Delights

    Wednesday, August 07, 2013

    Blueberry cake with sour cream filling and coconut topping

    Mustikakook. Blueberry cake.

    We love crumb cakes here in Estonia. Quite a lot. They're cheap, quick, and an excellent way of using up all those jams and preserves and marmalades we're busy making in July and August and September each year. I've stocked my larder with considerable amounts of wild strawberry fridge jam, apricot jam, sour cherry jam with almonds, and cloudberry jam thus far. And while we consume a jar each weekend, spreading generous amounts of last summer's flavour on our Saturday morning pancakes, we still have plenty of jars of canned goodies to spare. That's when you'll make a good old-fashioned Estonian crumb cake with jam filling.

    But sometimes you want something different. Although I've got a good variety of crumb cake and blueberry cake recipes up my sleeve, I was immediately drawn to this simple crumb cake with blueberries on Ragne's foodblog (a popular Estonian food blog). I made it couple of times before tweaking a bit. A bit more sour cream in the filling filling makes the cake even creamier, a generous helping of coconut in the topping makes it more flavourful, and a teaspoonful of vanilla in the cream can do no harm either. Note that the cake isn't very sweet - there's less than a cup of sugar, a scant 170 grams, in the whole lot. If you have a really sweet tooth, you may add a wee bit more sugar, but trust me, it's lovely with the amount specified!

    Remember: an American cup is about 240 ml and a stick of butter is 113 grams. That - and your high school math - should help you when doing the conversions :)

    Blueberry sour cream cake with coconut crumb topping
    (Purukook mustikate, hapukoore ja kookoshelvestega)
    Serves about 12
    Purukook mustikate ja hapukoorekreemiga. Blueberry cake with sour cream filling and coconut crumble.
    Crumb mixture:
    180 g all-purpose flour (300 ml)
    85 g caster sugar (100 ml)
    0.5 tsp baking powder
    a pinch of salt
    150 g cold butter, cut into cubes
    50 g unsweetened desiccated coconut (optional)

    2 large eggs
    85 g caster sugar (100 ml)
    250 g sour cream or Greek yoghurt
    30 ml all-purpose flour (50 ml)
    1 tsp vanilla sugar or extract
    200 g blueberries or bilberries

    Line a 30x40 cm Swiss roll tin with a parchment paper. Put aside.

    Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F.

    Start with the crumb mixture. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until combined. Add the cubed butter and pinch with your fingers until a coarse wet sands forms (I usually use my food processor for that).

    Take about two-thirds of the mixture and scatter into the baking tin. Press with the palms of your hand until compact.

    Whisk eggs with sugar, sour cream/yogurt, flour and vanill until combined. Spread over the base. Scatter blueberries on top.

    Fold coconut flakes into the remaining third of the crumb mixture (if using), then scatter the crumbs over the blueberries.

    Bake in a preheated oven for about 40 minutes, until the crumb topping is lovely shade of golden brown.

    Cool before cutting into small squares and serving.

    More crumb cake recipes:
    Classic crumb cake with jam filling @ Nami-Nami
    Mascarpone and curd cheese crumb cake @ Nami-Nami
    Purukook @ Siit nurgast ja sealt nurgast (recipe in Estonian)
    Blueberry crumb cake @ The Pioneer Woman

    More blueberry cake recipes:
    Coconut and blueberry cake @ Nami-Nami
    Blueberry cheesecake @ Nami-Nami
    Blueberry sour cream tart @ Nami-Nami
    French blueberry tart @ Nami-Nami
    Buttermilk-blueberry breakfast cake @ Alexandra's Kitchen
    Simple blueberry cake @ Bake or Break