Day 55: Courgette Carpaccio, Goats Cheese, Hazelnut & Mint
inspired by The Garrison
Maybe it’s because the sun is shining. Perhaps it’s the amount of cheese I’ve eaten recently. But I’m suddenly craving something fresh and light. Preferably something green.
This might sounds strange, but I really love salads that don’t have lettuce in. Don’t get me wrong. I like lettuce.
But there is something rather magically about being able to take a vegetable, dress it with salt, oil and vinegar, and then let it do it’s thing for an hour or so. You can’t do that with lettuce. You have to dress it and then eat it almost instantly otherwise it starts to go soggy.
But with, say, a tomato, the longer you leave it marinating in that dressing the better it gets. OK yes I know a tomato is technically not a vegetable, but you know what I mean.
But something that is definitely a vegetable is a courgette. Oh hang on, that’s a fruit too isn’t it? I google it. Yes, botanically speaking, it’s a fruit. Never mind.
How amazing does the phrase “botanically speaking” sound? I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to work out how to get it into a conversation.
I fear lockdown isn’t easing as quickly as my grip on my own sanity.
Back to courgettes.
One of my favourite fruit/vegetables. My favourite way to have them is roasted. But they are also amazing raw.
Usually I grate them and use them instead of lettuce in a salad. Maybe with some bulgar wheat or some cous cous. They stand up to dressing far better than lettuce which means they are great in a packed lunch. Make a big batch and it will keep in the fridge for a few days.
I know there are people that will take a salad to work and take a separate pot of dressing. I am not one of these people. Personally I like to know my lunch is ready to go. Plus I fear salad dressing leaking into my handbag.
Now I know there’s not much need for a packed lunch right now. Seeing as I’m not really going anywhere.
But I can find new ways to eat raw courgettes.
The Garrison is a gastro pub on Bermondsey Street. It’s really a restaurant in a pub, as it’s pretty tricky to just pop in for a drink. The tables are always all laid up for lunch or dinner. And with good reason. The food is delicious.
But what I love about The Garrison is the service. The staff here are great, really warm and welcoming. They genuinely seem to be having a great time at work. Or they are very good at looking like they are. Which, I can tell you after years of waitressing, is not an easy thing to do.
Either way it makes the difference between a good meal and a great meal.
On their menu at the moment (well as of the end of March anyway) is
“Courgette Carpaccio, Goats Cheese, Hazelnut & Mint”
This sounds like what I want to eat today. Yes I know I said I have eaten too much cheese recently. But goats cheese doesn’t count surely? Especially when in a salad?
I try to slice the courgettes super thin. I’m not great at it. My choice seems to be either produce fine wafers but not get a full slice, or have perfect rounds that are far to chunky. A settle for a mix of both. Don’t people say a salad should have a mix of textures?
But seriously, I run into this finely slicing problem time and time again. I really should buy a mandolin.
When they are sliced into their differing shapes and sizes I toss them in olive oil, salt, some chopped mint and a bit of chopped green chili. Then I cover and leave it on the side for a few hours. Every now and then I give the bowl a wiggle to make sure all the courgettes are getting coated in the dressing evenly.
To dish them up you can either place each one individually on a plate forming beautiful concentric circles. Or you can take the more direct approach and tip them into the centre of the plate and then move them around with circular hand motions until they look well mixed up. Like how a child would shuffle playing cards.
OK I admit it. I still shuffle cards like that. Never have quite mastered the proper (grown up) way of doing it.
Either way they will taste delicious. Top with crumbled goats cheese, some more fresh mint and hazelnuts that have been toasted and then lightly bashed in a pestle and mortar.
This is my new favourite way to eat courgettes.
I guess technically it’s a fruit salad.
Botanically speaking, that is.