Sunday, January 19, 2014

You say zucchini, I say courgette {+ Pépé's recipe}

Or, maybe you're cool and you say courgette as well. Let's be friends :)

Or, maybe you just came here for the recipe. I can do that, too, but first, let me tell you the story (because there's always a story :p).

When I followed my then fiancé to Belgium, I was running headfirst into an unknown world: new country, new language, new people, new culture, and... new food. I wasn't sure how I was going to cope, but I was ready, and a bit excited, to try.

What I discovered was a beautiful country that looked like it belonged in a book of fairytales - everything was green, castles were everywhere, and even the houses were made of cut stone. The language was a biotch, but I muddled through it and now speak French like a pro (yes, I can even make the "rrr" sound!). The people were friendly enough, even though the culture clashed a bit (I still find it strange that I can kiss you to say hello, but it's out of the question to hug you when I want to say thank you...).

As for the food, it was either hit or miss. I have learned to love a lot of the misses now (tuna and peaches taste delicious together!) but there are certain things I will never find appetizing (boudin blanc? seriously? Even the name is gross.). One thing is for sure, a lot of test-tasting took place at Pépé's house. He never made anything especially strange, he just prepared things differently, or maybe it was a vegetable we didn't eat often in my family.

And here enters the zuchinni. And I'm not talking about just any zuchinni. I'm talking about Pépé's zuchinni. You see, Pépé has the greenest thumb of anyone I know, and only the tastiest of veggies leave his overflowing garden. He is also a very practical man. His reasoning is, if you harvest a zuchinni while it's small, you'll eat it at only one meal. But, if you wait and harvest it when it's as long and as big around as your thigh, well, you'll be eating that zuchinni all week long.

The first time I remember eating zuchinni was when I tried a slice of Pépé's pan-fried giant zuchinni. And I fell in love. The simple flavors come together in a true taste explosion in your mouth. It really is a dish you'd gladly eat all week long.

I've since made this recipe countless times, using Pépé's giant zuchinni, but also using traditional-sized ones when he doesn't have any to give me. This is a great way to prepare patty pan squash as well, so feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

Courgettes à la Pépé serves 1-2
  • 1 medium zuchinni
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  1. Cut your garlic clove in half and rub a frying pan down with the cut side.
  2. Pour about 1 tbsp of olive oil into the pan and heat over low heat.
  3. Wash and cut the zuchinni into even slices about 3-4 cm thick (about 1 1/2 ins).
  4. Place the slices of zuchinni cut-side down into the frying pan, then turn it over so the top is covered with olive oil.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Let brown for 10-15 minutes before turning the slices over. Add more oil to the pan if necessary and season with more salt and pepper.
  6. Brown this side for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot as is, or cold with a drizzle of high quality olive oil.

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