Courgette, Zucchini low calorie lunch
… or as a side-dish with meat or fish.
About 100 calories per person
Seems very reasonable to me, given a half slice of our sour dough bread is also 100 calories !
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We used to cook this dish in olive oil, and maybe adding a little butter admittedly can make it even tastier. The fats also brown the courgettes nicely. But then again, there’s enough water in the courgette to mean they will cook easily in their own juice – without any oil ! Now that we’ve had this without oil, we find it’s rich enough, and if we go back to adding oil, we can find it a bit greasy – as well as adding all those unnecessary calories.
Courgettes – 17 calories per 100g, that’s all !
Well, who knew… not surprising though. It’s full of water and makes you feel full really easily ( apparently it slows down digestion so you feel full for longer too. ) . It’s officially a ‘summer squash vegetable’ and is meant to be full of Vit. C, potassium and fibre. It’s also meant to help your blood cells ( getting too technical now for me!) and lower blood pressure.
It’s a great vegetable to eat raw or cooked. Matches really well with cheese. With Parmesan as a raw salad, or gruyere as a grill or bake. It matches well with spices or creams too. For now, we’ll have it as a healthy 100 calorie lunch with a little feta to add some sharp salty contrast.
Courgettes of course. Or Zucchini , same thing !
Lots of them. You’ll be surprised how they reduce, and you’ll find this so yummy that you’ll eat it faster than you realise. So we tend to have minimum 1 1/2 big courgette ( or 2 normal size) each.
A good handful in the pan, then save some for decoration. I’ll eat sage any way I can but its nicer for most people if it gets a little cooked and crispy. I used to love pulling off leaves to eat in my old cottage garden so I’m loving that it grows wild here in our community garden too.The leaves are much smaller though and actually that’s nicer as they don’t get too hairy !
One decent sized clove is good for us for 2 people. If you like loads, then use more. It doesn’t feel like too much when you use the micro-grater. Just spread it around the courgettes so it doesn’t stay in one place.
Roasted Almonds Yes, roast them. It gives a much rounder, richer taste. Just chop with a knife afterwards.
Chili flakes or Cayenne powder Feels like we add this to everything (optionally) these days. It adds a different dimension. Cayenne is strong so just a pinch will do. As for the flakes… know how hot your own flakes are !
Feta cheese Goes really well with the courgette and against the chili. You don’t need much to give this the cheesy salty topping to make this feel complete. You can leave it out just as easily though.
salt season to taste as you like it, but we don’t tend to need it. The feta gives a salty contrast to the courgette.
Kitchen tools I used
Mandoline – this is the one we use, but that’s because Paul likes to have the best commercial one that’s going to last us a lifetime. You don’t need to spend that much, in fact I prefer a simpler one like this one ! You need the slices to be thin, but not transparent or paper thin otherwise they’ll lose shape and colour when they cook.
Micro grater – We keep our microplane stored with the knives now because we use it just as often as picking up a kitchen knife. You can get different size graters but I think the fine one we have is best for mincing garlic, lemon or ginger. We still use the box grater for bigger grating, e.g for carrots. The more control I want the slice, the bigger the knife I choose.
Large knife and Board – We like to use the heel of a large chef knife for the almond crunching, and big long lasting commercial style boards, and they’ve lasted us forever ! Using the right colour board for the right food is a pet nag of mine ! A wooden board is nice too for chopping nuts !
Bowl – You’ll need a very large one ! My sister bought us this mighty useful set (bowls, sieve and cup measuring set) from Joseph Joseph. It’s such a useful all in one set that we kept it when we simplified our life ! I used to prefer to use a stainless steel set like this but now it would be heavier for travelling and a nice to have luxury that we just don’t have at the moment. ( Hmm… we still miss one of those lovely stainless steel bowls Paul got on Raymond Blanc’s recommendation … I wonder if we kept it in an attic somewhere !)
- You could have everything prepped before you start – the almonds, the feta, the garlic, the courgettes. It will take longer, but take the pressure off maybe the first time you make this. When you know what you’re doing, you can do it all as in the 5 steps above.
- I usually roast too many almonds so I keep the leftovers in a jar for snacking or easy sprinkling. So, you could have these ready prepared for a quick lunch topping.
- By using the micro grater, you don’t even notice there is garlic in it – not everyone like little garlic pieces and no matter how finely you chop there always seems to be some lumps !So I use the microplane (see details on the link in the equipment section )
- Seriously, get yourself a mandoline ! I used to be scared to use it . But respect it and be careful and you’ll never look back. It’s so easy, and unbelievably FAST, and satisfying to get everything ship shape the same size, and waste less too.
Fast and easy method
5 steps… takes about 10 minutes to cook.
2. Mandoline your courgettes thinly like in the picture, but not paper thin or transparent or they won’t hold their shape when cooking.
3. Once the sage is browned, Add courgette to the pan, bit by bit, and keep moving around to get them all cooked. Heat up your oven to 200-220℃ (400℉) for the almonds. (Alternatively you could dry roast them in another frying pan- I prefer oven roasted). Get a few cubes of feta ready.
4. Whilst the courgettes are cooking, micro plane your garlic and add it to the courgettes in a few different spots whilst cooking. Oven should have heated up now, so throw a handful of almonds onto the baking tray ( or put in a dish ) in the oven. Put the timer on for 5mins !
5. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper, or a little sprinkle of chili flakes to the courgettes and mix around. Keep an eye on the almonds… keep moving the courgettes around. About 5 mins later take the almonds out – they should be browned but not black. Take the courgettes off the heat – they should be all cooked.
DONE… let the almonds cool on a dry chopping board.
Serve up the courgettes.
Chop the almonds roughly with a large chef knife and sprinkle over the top.
Finally, sprinkle just a little crumbled feta to contrast ( you’ll need less than you think !)
For me, it’s perfect as it is. But perhaps use mint instead of sage. I’m sure I’ve seen the lady that inspired this courgette almond combo ( see below ) use mint with courgette somewhere too !
Perhaps add roasted garlic, or cook thinly sliced onions with the cougette ( yay to the mandoline) instead of fresh garlic.
Fresh, seasonal courgettes are so simple and tasty.
I first felt I had really tasted courgettes properly when we were opening our old hotel maison mk all those years ago. Cook would make us a vegetable soup for lunch. It was so unbelievably tasty we would all ask… what was in it ? It tasted so special. So we asked … and the answer came back as simply COURGETTES !
Really ! So I asked for the recipe. And sure enough it was pretty much just courgettes. A really nicely written recipe was printed for the guests like this. Even though the potato featured in the ingredients – it seemed to be missed in the method. One thing was constant though – the courgettes. When in season, they were so fresh and tasty, and we weren’t used to having such delicious produce back in the UK then.
• ½ kg courgette
• 1 potato
• ½ beef stock cube
• fresh cream
1. cut the courgette in slices and boil them into ½ litre of water+ stock cube for 20 mn.
2. Mix them with ½ glass of fresh cream.
3. Done !
I think I first came across this combination of courgette and almond years ago, through a lovely Aussie lady called Jules and her stonesoup blog. I found myself very much in tune with her ideas, and it was was nice to feel I wasn’t alone in trying to simplify things. What I thought were my simple little weird combos felt kind of backed up by a professional ! My job is researching the equipment mostly, but I love to share my simply living thoughts with you all too – whether it’s a recipe, or a story, or a tip.
Jules does lots of meal planning for people, really successfully. I just didn’t need that. But if you do, then check her out here. She’s a pro… and I like her simple style !