Courgette, Goat’s Cheese, Red Onion and Olive Pizza

Once again stuck for lunches for the kids?  Make up a batch of pizza dough below and they can top it with whatever they like leaving you free to do the same.

Courgette, Goat’s Cheese, Red Onion and Olive Pizza

For the pizza dough

500g strong plain white flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tsp salt

7g sachet fast-action yeast

2 tsp. sugar

325mls warm water

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing

For the pesto

40g fresh basil leaves

25g pine nuts

1 garlic clove, crushed

4 tbsp olive oil

25g finely grated parmesan, or vegetarian alternative

For the topping

2 medium red onions

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

200g soft, fresh rindless goat’s cheese (from a log)

2 medium courgettes

Oregano, fresh or dried

20 good quality black olives, pitted

Whisk the yeast, sugar, oil and water together. Add the flour and salt to a food processor. Add the yeast mixture and combine until the dough comes together. Allow to carry on for 5 minutes or so to knead the dough. Drop into a clean bowl (or the stand mixer bowl), cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/ gas 6. Peel the onions, leaving the root end intact. Slice each through the root into thin wedges. Put into a small roasting tin and toss with 2 tbsp of the extra-virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread out and roast for 20 minutes until tender and brown-tinged. Remove and turn the oven up to 250°C/fan230°C/gas 9, or as high as it will go. Place a baking sheet or pizza stone in the bottom of the oven to get super hot.

For the pesto, put the basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil in a food processor, then whizz to a coarse paste. Scoop into a bowl, stir in the parmesan, then season well with salt to taste.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, knock it back, then knead once more until smooth. Break off pieces of the dough, shape each piece into a ball, then roll each into rounds. Dust well with flour. Keep them around 10” as it is easier to work with.

Top and tail the courgettes, then cut them lengthways into ribbons using a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Drop them into a bowl and toss with the rest of the extra-virgin olive oil, the chopped oregano and some pepper. Don’t add salt until just before you use them, otherwise they’ll wilt and go floppy.

Flour a flat baking sheet and add a pizza base. Roll out again back into shape. Spread pesto over the surface, leaving a small rim clear round the edge. Top with the roasted onion wedges and twists of courgette ribbons. Scatter with goat’s cheese and the olives. Slide onto the hot tray or stone in the oven.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, turning the pizzas around halfway through so they cook evenly, until the crust is crisp and golden. Slide them onto a wooden board, cut into thick slices and serve.


Courgette, Bacon, Basil & Parmesan Frittata

When I tell new customers that I write a blog with Simon, to help them use up their veg boxes every week, they always reply “But are the recipes quick and easy?”  So, this week, here are three variations on a theme.  Frittata, an Italian style omelette can be packed full of seasonal vegetables and makes a great lunch or brunch in no time.

Courgette, Bacon, Basil & Parmesan Frittata

Serves 2

Extra virgin olive oil

6 rashers of thinly cut smoked streaky bacon

3 courgettes, thinly sliced

75g parmesan, finely grated

Small bunch of fresh basil

4 large eggs, beaten

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 170C. Heat some oil in a medium non-stick, ovenproof frying pan. Cut the bacon into lardons and fry until golden brown and crispy. Add the courgettes and cook over a medium heat with a pinch of salt, for about 10-15 mins until completely collapsed, soft and golden. Add the basil and cook for a few minutes more.  In a bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Add the courgettes and season lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the parmesan. Wipe out the frying pan. Add a dash of olive oil. Put the pan back on a medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and leave on the heat, just until the bottom and sides begin to set. Put in the oven until just firm, about 10 minutes. It is up to you whether you flip the frittata over or serve it the same side up. Cut into wedges and serve with a nice salad.

Grilled Courgette Salad with Chilli, Mint and Lemon

I never have enough recipes for courgettes so I was pleased to come up with two this week. This really light, refreshing salad is perfect when you are having a BBQ. Just grill the courgettes along side everything else. If you want to make it more substantial scatter with feta or crumble some grilled Halloumi over the top.

Grilled Courgette Salad with Chilli, Mint and Lemon

Serves 2

3 courgettes, ends trimmed, cut into long strips, a mandolin is great for this

Extra virgin olive oil

1 fresh red chilli, seeded, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ lemon, juice only

1 lemon zest

handful fresh mint, roughly chopped

Toss the courgette strips in a bowl with the olive oil (just enough to coat the courgette), and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat a BBQ or a ridged grill pan until smoking hot and griddle the courgettes in batches, about four minutes per side, being careful not to crowd the grill pan. They should be tender, but with a crunch to them in the middle. If the strips are not quite cooked, leave them on the grill pan for longer, but watch the heat as you don’t want them to burn. Don’t be tempted to move the courgette while it is cooking or you won’t get the char-grill marks across the flesh. Check seasoning.

Mix some lemon juice, olive oil and salt together to make a dressing and use this to dress the griddled courgettes. Add the chilli and mint and lemon zest and serve.

Chilled Courgette and Basil Soup

It is almost too hot to eat. The hottest day for 41 years apparently. There is only one thing that sounds enticing. Chilled Soup. This delicious and vibrant Chilled Courgette and Basil Soup will cool you down.

Chilled Courgette and Basil Soup

Serves 4

2 onions, peeled and finely sliced

4 courgettes, cut into thin slices

Extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

sea salt and ground white pepper, to taste

1¼ pint water (or chicken stock)

2 tablespoons crème fraiche

2 tablespoons good quality pesto or make your own (recipe below)

A handful of spinach leaves, rocket or watercress

Cream or olive oil to serve

Fry the onion gently with plenty of olive oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the courgettes and a good pinch of salt and continue to cook for about 20 minutes, until the courgettes are completely collapsed and beginning to caramelise. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more. Season well with salt and pepper and add the water and pesto. Bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the leaves. This will make your soup an appetizing green. Liquidize with a hand blender. Stir in the creme fraiche and adjust seasoning. Add more pesto if necessary.  Serve with a swirl of cream or olive oil.


½ a clove of garlic, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 good handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped

A handful of pine nuts, very lightly toasted

A good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

A small squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a food processor. Add a bit more garlic if you like, but I usually stick to ½ a clove. Add the pine nuts to the mixture and pound again. Turn out into a bowl and add half the Parmesan. Stir gently and add olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an good consistency.

Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese. Pour in some more oil and taste again. Keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency. You may like to add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end but it’s not essential. Try it with and without and see which you prefer.


Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

This is such a great use-up dish at the end of the week, when your fridge is still full of veg and you know your next veg box is coming. You can throw in whatever you like and haven’t even padded it out with noodle, it is just veg, veg and more veg and you can be sure you have got your 10 a day

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

Serves 2

Teriyaki sauce varies hugely. My favourite is Waitrose home-brand.

Large knob of fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic

1-2 fresh red chillies

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Handful of purple sprouting broccoli, sliced finely

Head o Bok, Choi shredded

Few sticks of celery and its leaves, shredded

2 carrots, peeled and then peeled into ribbons

Sweet mixed peppers, sliced, seeds removed

Teriyaki (for gluten free a mixture of Mirin, gluten free soy and Chinese cooking rice wine)

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Chopped cashew nuts, toasted

Sea salt

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

5 a day Delicious Green juice – Kale, Courgette and Apple

I always find around this time of year, that Winter really begins to take its toll. I long for some sunshine. Any hint of a tan from last summer is gone and my skin is dry from all the central heating and returned to a blueish shade of white. I seem to have had a cold for weeks and I am permanently tired. Now is the time to really look at your diet and make sure that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.

Up until last week I was concerned enough about getting my 5 a day, and now they have only gone and upped the ante and announced that we should now really be looking at getting 10 a day if we want to see the health results in terms of decreased chance of getting heart decease, stroke and cancer.   Well panic not – a green juice that not only probably provides half of your 10 a day but tastes really nice to!

However, this requires a proper juicer. Not a Nutribullet. Nutribullets are nothing more than small, upside down liquidisers and although the juices they produce are undoubtedly better for you, being much higher is fiber, they are all disgusting. Green sludge that would put anyone of juicing for life. Get a proper juicer and you won’t look back!

5 a day Delicious Green juice – Kale, Courgette and Apple

Feel free to play around with the recipe – substitute apples for pears, add a celery stick or a squeeze of lime. If you keep your veg and fruit in the fridge before making, your juice will be cold when you drink it, which is always nicer I think.

Large handful Kale

3 apples, quartered

1 large courgette, cut into chunks

Juice the kale first followed by the courgette and apple. Drink straight away.



Baked Courgettes Stuffed with Spicy Lamb and Coriander

I have to say I am always a bit stuck with courgettes. They are a bit bland and always need that extra bit of help to make them really tasty. This is a great way of using them up. It maybe a little laborious but well worth the effort.


Baked Courgettes Stuffed with Spicy Lamb and Coriander

3 large courgettes, halved length-ways

For the stuffing

500g lean minced lamb

2 onions, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp each ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch chilli flakes

1 400g can plum tomatoes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Heat oven to 180C. Scoop out and discard the seeds of the courgettes with a teaspoon and lay them on a roasting tray lined with grease-proof, drizzle with olive oil and season. Bake for 30 mins until softened slightly.

Meanwhile, fry the lamb in a heavy bottomed saucepan. You should not need any oil as lamb is usually fatty. Brown over a high heat. Next turn down the heat and add the onions. Add a little oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and cook slowly for about 10 to 15 minutes. Next add the spices and garlic. Fry for a minute more and then add the tin of tomatoes. Rinse out the tin with a little water and add that too. Cook over a medium heat, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes have reduced and you have a thick sauce. Stir in the coriander. Check seasoning. When the courgettes are ready, pile the lamb into the cavities. Bake for 15-20 mins.


Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs with Chilli Sauce

With this lovely weather we are having, I am trying to BBQ as much as possible. I always feel there is less cleaning up, apart from the occasional horrendous job of giving the BBQ a thorough clean a few times a year!

But somehow it is usually meat that ends up on the BBQ and the vegetables get forgotten. This is such a shame when the smoky, intense heat, works so well with so many summer veg. My favourites are peppers, courgettes, red onions and tomatoes which all fit perfectly on a skewer, and makes them great for kebabs. Riverford have the most adorable, little sweet peppers at the moment, which are perfect!

Riverford Sweet Mixed Peppers

Add some Halloumi, and you have got yourself a meal. Think Kebab, and serve with chilli sauce and pitta or go all-out and add tzatziki and shredded salad.

Grilled Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs with Chilli Sauce

Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs with Chilli Sauce

You want the thickness of all your vegetables and halloumi to be roughly the same. This way, they will all come in contact with the grill equally and cook evenly.

Mixed red, orange and yellow peppers

Halloumi cheese


Red onions

extra virgin olive oil

Cherry tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Chilli Sauce (such as Sriracha)


Place some wooden skewers into a large roasting tray of cold water to soak – this will stop them from burning.

Cut the pepper in half, scoop out all of the seeds and white pith with a teaspoon, then cut into 2cm chunks. Cut the halloumi into 2cm chunks. Cut the courgettes into 2cm slices. Peel the onions and cut into thin wedges and place in the bowl. Remove the skewers from the tray, discard the water and wipe the tray dry. Thread all your ingredients onto the skewers, not too close together so that they have a chance to cook. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the skewers onto the BBQ (or griddle pan) and cook for around 8 minutes or until cooked through, turning every 2 minutes to get nice and golden on all sides. Drizzle with chilli sauce and serve with flatbreads.

Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs with Chilli Sauce

Spaghetti and Courgette Carbonara

I came home to not only courgettes in my veg box but also a hoard of them at the allotment too. As I have said before, I am not a huge fan of the “courgette spaghetti” idea when courgettes replace the pasta itself. Cook the courgette until tasty and it has fallen apart. Lacking the gluten of pasta, it is never going to give your dish enough texture to hold the sauce. Why do you think pasta was invented?

But add some courgette to your pasta, and you’ve got another thing altogether. It lightens the dish, adds taste and goodness. Pasta, bacon, courgette, cream and Parmesan – a winning combination.

Spaghetti and Courgette Carbonara 2

Spaghetti and Courgette Carbonara

Serve 2

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 medium courgettes, mix of green and yellow if available

200 g good quality spaghetti or linguini

2 large free-range egg yolks

100 ml single cream

1 large handful Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Small handful of fresh basil, shredded

Extra virgin olive oil

150g good quality thin-sliced streaky bacon, cut into tiny strips/lardons


Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Cut the courgettes in thin strips lengthways. Then cut the strips into very thin, into spahghetti like strips. Alternatively, grate it coarsely.  Your water will now be boiling, so add the pasta to the pan and cook according to the packet instructions. To make your creamy carbonara sauce, put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the cream and half the Parmesan, and mix together with a fork. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper and put to one side.


Heat a very large frying pan and add a good splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta or bacon until dark brown and crisp. Take time with the bacon as all the fat should render out and it must be crisp. Add the courgette slices and 2 big pinches of black pepper, not just to season but to give it a bit of a kick. Sprinkle in the basil, give everything a stir, so the courgettes become coated with all the lovely bacon-flavoured oil, and fry until they start to turn lightly golden and have softened slightly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water. Add a couple of spoons on pasta water to the pan with the courgettes and bacon and remove from the heat and then add your cream, eggs and parmesan. Stir together quickly. (No more cooking now, otherwise you’ll scramble the eggs.) Taste quickly for seasoning, then serve and eat immediately.

Spaghetti and Courgette Carbonara 1

Soupe au Pistou

I never like to admit it, but I am a bit behind on my veg box. I seem to have been so busy with work and kids and endless things that they need for school before the end on term, that I am constantly pushed for time. This is one of my favourite soups, a French version of the better known Minestrone. I first remember seeing Soupe au Pistou in Marie Claire magazine probably about 30 years ago, when the food writer was a little known guy called Nigel Slater. I can still remember the photos and it looked so simple yet sophisticated.

What is great is, although it takes a little time to make what with all the chopping, it uses up lots of veg. You can be experimental with the ingredients but I piled in heaps of onion, celery, carrots, courgettes and broad beans.

If you too are pushed for time you can buy ready cooked beans and even buy some good quality pesto rather than make your own.

Soupe au Pistou

Soupe au Pistou

Try to have all the vegetables diced about the same size, which makes for a nice presentation. Of course, you can vary the vegetables according to what’s available. If you wish to use canned beans, use 1 400g tin on haricot or cannellini beans. For vegans, leave out the Parmesan.

For the soup

1 cup (200g) dried beans (haricot or cannellini) or 400g tin of beans

2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled and diced, or 4 leeks, cleaned and sliced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or dried oregano

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

2 medium courgettes, diced

200g shelled  broad beans

200g fresh shelled peas (or frozen)

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced or thinly slice

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

100g dried pasta; any small variety will do, such as orzo, vermicelli, elbows, or shells

For the pistou

1 large clove of garlic, peeled

pinch of salt

2 cups (40g) packed fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil

1 small tomato; peeled, seeded, and diced

1 1/2 ounces (45g) Parmesan cheese, grated

Rinse and sort the beans. Soak the beans overnight covered in cold water. The next day, drain the beans and put them in a large saucepan with the bay leaves and enough water to cover the beans. Cook the beans for about an hour, or until tender, adding more water if necessary to keep them immersed. Once cooked, remove the beans from the heat and set aside. Alternatively use 1 tin of canned cannellini or haricot beans.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions or leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add the thyme or marjoram, diced carrots, zucchini, garlic, and salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are completely cooked. Add the cooked beans and their liquid, then the peas and pasta, plus 2 2l water. Bring the soup to a boil, and simmer a few minutes until the pasta is cooked. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and boil the broad beans for 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into cold water to refresh. Slip the broad beans out of their outer shell. When the soup is cooked, check the seasoning and add the broad beans.

While the soup is cooking, make the pistou. Pound the garlic to a paste in a mortar and pestle (or use a food processor) with a generous pinch of salt. Coarsely chop the basil leaves and pound them into the garlic until the mixture is relatively smooth.Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, while pounding, then pound in the tomato and cheese. Taste, and season with more salt if desired.

To serve: Ladle hot soup into bowls and add a generous spoonful of pistou to the centre and swirl gently. Keep extra pistou within reach because you’ll likely want to add more to the soup as you go.

Note: If the soup is too thick, thin it with additional water.