Whilst art directing our first brochure for Samsonite in Paris we had the pleasure of working with talented photographer Sandro Sodano... it was an excellent week, not just for the incredible photography we produced but also for the wonderful gastronomic journey of Paris that Sandro took us on... we ate in what I can only describe as the best French Italian restaurant in I have ever eaten in.
On our way home Sandro and I got around to talking about cooking and how difficult it was sometimes to create different and tasty meat-free dishes for The Big V, when Sandro suggested I try a dish which his family have made for years and which is served as either a side dish or a main dish depending on who's at the table... it's essentially a courgette lasagne, using crispy coated slices of courgette as the pasta.
It's not a fast make... so only make this when you've got a long afternoon to relax in your kitchen... although you can freeze it perfectly well. You need time to make a good tomato sauce (something never to take lightly) and then it's a process of flouring the courgette slices, shallow frying them and then layering the dish.
There are some early UK courgettes about... my home grown one's are only just about to flower... so this recipe is perfect for now.
For the slow tomato sauce
2 medium onions - finely chopped
3 tins of good quality chopped Italian tomatoes (fresh is just as good but you need to peel and frankly who can be bothered?)
3 cloves garlic - crushed
a slug of white wine
a slug of ketchum
a slug of balsamic vinegar
fresh rosemary and thyme
Saute the onions in butter and olive oil and let them sweat for a long while (about 10mins on a low heat) and halfway through add the crushed garlic.
Then add a heart slug of white wine and let is reduce
Next add the tomatoes, herbs, ketchup and vinegar and I like to throw in an extra teaspoon of sugar, but this is to your own taste.
Then let is simmer on a very low heat for as long as you've got... 2 hours min.
Courgette pie filling
Flour (salt and pepper)
Egg and Milk mix
3 balls fresh mozzarella
a strong hard cheese - finely grated
Slice the courgettes, though not too thinly... I usually get 5 slices from each courgette.
Prepare the flour and egg/mil mix in bowls and when you're ready dip the courgette into the egg/milk, then the flour and shake off any excess.
In a pan, heat the oil...enough so that you're shallow frying and fry 3 slices at a time... don't be tempted to overcrowd the pan as they wont turn golden and they'll go soggy.
2nd layer of the pie
Once you've fried up all your courgettes you should be ready to layer your pie. I try and go for 3 layers of each...start with a layer of courgettes, then add tomatoes, followed by 1 of the balls of mozzarella which you need to tear up and place onto the layers... add salt and pepper each layer and continue till it's all gone.
30 mins in a medium oven and you have a glorious, golden, molten dish.
I now need a recipe from Dominick in Los Angeles... this will continue my 'photographers receipes' theme...
eat and of course, enjoy!