IN SEASON Now is the perfect time to get your hands on some delicious, locally sourced courgettes.
With June behind us and July just starting, we are well and truly enjoying the abundance of summer produce. Beans, courgettes, peas, lettuce, radishes, chard, kale, bunches of fresh herbs and a host of other delights. The broad beans are soon to appear. New-season potatoes and carrots marked with fresh earth already delight us.
Many people are growing their own garden vegetables; good wishes to them, rejoice in their produce, and maybe get inspired. If you’re not into growing them yourself, there is a lot to be said for finding out where local vegetables may be purchased in your area.
I was picking up a loaf of delicious Cornrue sourdough bread from their bakery business in the Demesne Westport when I came on a small impromptu market.
Vegetables were on offer; natural, chemical- and pesticide-free vegetables grown locally. This reduces the carbon footprint of vegetables’ transport, and customers get a fresher product from moment of cutting/harvesting, so it’s a win-win solution for traders and customers. It is inspiring to see vegetables being nurtured, grown and sold within our locality.
Kate was there from Killary Fjord mussels and I picked up two kilos of fresh mussels. The first kilo we had Saturday night in a homemade Thai Curry sauce, coconut milk with a kick of chilli and fresh herbs. The next night, we felt like something different to our go-to mussels dish (mussels with garlic and chilli in tomato sauce with penne pasta), so we cooked a risotto, trying to judge correctly when to put the cleaned mussels in. Turns out ten minutes before the end of cooking is ample!
Last week I was talking to Helen Shanley from Westport Country Markets who told me the great news that the market is opening again. “We are restarting our beautiful market in a small way after closing for Covid-19 concerns,” she said, “and we’re really looking forward to seeing all our regular customers back.” It will be open every Thursday in St Anne’s boxing club, with reduced opening hours (9am to 11am) for the time being.
Always remember your local country market should you be lucky enough to have one close by. If you don’t, why don’t you see if you can start one up by chatting to a couple of local producers and seeing if you could get them to bring their produce to a car park or a green space once a week. You never know ’til you try. There is a strong appetite and appreciation for these initiatives now.
All of this talk of local produce reminded me that I had local courgettes to cook, so here are two recipes we really enjoyed making with this local produce.
Courgette, butter bean and mackerel salad
Very easy to assemble and serve, this could be a delicious lunch or early/late supper. It’s green, and full of protein with the smoked mackerel.
What you need
- 1 courgette, ribboned with a peeler
- 400g blanched butter beans (use tinned as last resort!)
- 1 red chilled, finely chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Good glug of olive oil
- Sprig of fresh parsley, chopped
- 50g cheese of your choice (feta, cheddar, etc)
- 2 smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed, broken into chunks
What you do
Place all your ingredients into a mixing bowl. Gently mix with washed hands and season to taste. Serve with breads.
Whole roasted courgette with fennel and chilli
Imagine roasting whole courgettes; it’s great! Lovely roasted tones intermingled with interesting flavours can lift gorgeous green courgettes to a different level.
What you need
- 5 courgettes
- ½ fennel bulb, sliced
- Bay leaf
- 100g cherry tomatoes
- 1 tsp chilli flake
- 1/3 glass white wine
- Glug of olive oil
- 250g rice, flavoured with turmeric or saffron
- 2 tbsp pine nuts, roasted
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ½ lemon to squeeze
- 2 tbsp crumbly white cheese
What you do
Place the fennel, cherry tomatoes and bay leaf on a roasting tray lined with tin foil, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with seasoning and the chilli flakes. Add the wine and place the courgettes on top of this, pricking along the length with a fork. Cover with tin foil.
Roast for between an hour and a quarter and an hour and three quarters at 180°C, lifting away the tinfoil for the last ten minutes. When the rice is ready, add the contents of the roasting tray, minus the courgettes, and stir. Then make a bed of this mixed rice on a large plate and place the courgettes on top. Sprinkle with pine nuts, bread crumbs, the crumbled cheese, and squeeze the lemon over the lot and serve!
Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.