As I sit here typing this post I am thankful for many things like this delicious, easy-to-make recipe from The Hungry Belgian and the fact that after using a mandolin I am still in possession of all 10 of my fingers. Result!
This was a big year for me gardening-wise as, thanks to a house move, I have finally been able to create the allotment of my dreams. Eating something you have planted, nurtured and watched grow is one of life’s simple pleasures. Of course not everything grew. My sweetcorn was a disaster and the pepper and chili plants were mauled to death by hoards of hungry snails and slugs.
One thing that, so far, has seemed to escape the ‘wrath of the gastropods’ are my courgette (zucchini) plants. For this I am also thankful, as courgettes are one of my favourite vegetables. I love grating raw courgettes into pasta, rice, couscous and salads, or brushing them with olive oil before grilling them on the barbecue. Pureed into soups, chopped into stir-fries, added to banana bread or made into these moreish parmesan chips there is no question – courgettes are the undisputed Queen of Veggies!
So, you can imagine my delight when I cam back from a short break to Prague only to discover the biggest courgette I have ever seen. Sadly it is no more but trust me when I say it fed the masses! I was running out of ideas on how to prepare / cook it, when I stumbled across this recipe for Zucchini and Fennel Dauphinoise. The good news was that I planted some fennel, the bad news is that unseasonably warm weather in the UK plus a few missed waterings meant the fennel plant ‘bolted‘ (no fennel bulbs). Nevermind! The bees and butterflies enjoyed the flowers and the fronds have been a great addition to pesto, salads, marinades and the cream sauce I used for this recipe.
To be honest the fennel didn’t come through too strongly but there was a lovely aniseed hint in the background, which for me worked to cut through the heaviness of the cheese and cream. The potato and courgette were tender and slightly sweet and the four cloves of garlic and pinches of nutmeg gave the dish a lovely kick. I adjusted the recipe to make one serving and I ate half for dinner, and the other half was re-heated for lunch the next day. This is something I will definitely make again!
- 1 small / medium sized potato
- 1 small / medium sized courgette (zucchini)
- 250ml double cream
- 4 cloves of garlic (can use less, I just really love garlic)
- a handful of fresh fennel fronds (hard, stalky bits removed)
- salt, pepper and nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan Assisted / 350°F / Gas Mark 4
- Finely slice the potato and courgette with a knife OR if you’re feeling brave, use a mandolin
- In a small baking dish arrange a layer of potato slices and sprinkle with a pinch of pepper, salt and nutmeg (as you add layers make sure to compress them as you go)
- Add a layer of courgette slices and sprinkle those with some pepper, salt and a pinch of nutmeg
- Add another layer of potato slices and season as before
- Add another layer of courgette slices and season as before (if you’re worried about too much salt or that the nutmeg may be overpowering hold back on how much you add, maybe only adding them to 2-layers. Personally I found the measurements okay but the taste may be too strong / salty for some so adjust to your own taste)
- Heat the double cream in a saucepan over medium heat (you just want to warm the cream, not boil it)
- While the cream is warming, finely chop the fennel fronds
- Add the crushed garlic and chopped fennel fronds to the cream and give it a good stir
- Pour the cream mixture over the sliced potatoes and courgettes until the dish is 3/4 full or the potatoes and courgettes are submerged
- Sprinkle with grated cheese (I used mozzarella as I couldn’t find any Gruyere. It actually worked well as it was super-cheesy and the flavour was mild enough to let all the other flavours shine)
- Bake for 50-minutes and then cover with tin foil and bake for a futher 50-minutes or until a fork goes easily into the potatoes (put a tray under the dish as it has a tendency to bubble up and make a mess of the oven)
- Serve with a small salad, or have on it’s own with a chilled, dry white wine.
It’s a beast!!!
It’s the courgette that keeps on giving
I love my mandolin. This is only the 2nd time I have used it. The first time was on Boxing Day 2015. Did I tell you about the time I spent 8-hours sitting in A&E on Boxing Day? No? Well that’s a story for another time….
Layers of goodness
Add the cream and then sprinkle with grated cheese