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Courgette Layer Bake

When I came across a copy of Reece Witherspoon's 'Whisky in a Teacup' book in a charity shop and idly turning the pages found a recipe majoring in courgettes, I knew I must part with the princely sum of £1, to add her recipe to my collection and try it out. I discovered that her method of disgorging the courgettes first and then coating them in a mixture of plain flour and coarse semolina or maize flour was a real step forward in ensuring the courgettes retained some bite and even ended up 'meatier' in texture than in previous bakes I had made. The salting process means the excess water has been released and so the bake is not sloppy and the flours absorb the rest of the water retained in the courgettes, making for a solid bake not a watery one.

At its heart, this is a homely vegetarian recipe although I have, as usual, developed and added to it over time so I also have some meat versions too. If you have a sizeable courgette glut then this is the recipe for you. I usually batch bake three or four and freeze for the autumn & winter. Measurements are very rough and adaptable to what you have to hand, or on the allotment. Preparation of the separate elements is the key here and then it's very simple to layer up.

Method & Ingredients - Serves 4 - 6

Two large or three smaller courgettes - sliced lengthways approx 1 cm width

1 Tablespoon Table Salt (not coarse Sea salt)

Lay out the courgette strips onto a platter and sprinkle with the salt and allow to stand for an hour or so. Drain off the water, rinse the courgettes and pat them dry. Set aside.

2 eggs, whisked in a small bowl. You'll be dipping the courgettes in this later

2 Tablespoons plain flour AND 2 Tablespoons of coarse semolina, ditto for the dipping

Add some salt and pepper to the flour mix

2 large beaf steak tomatoes sliced, or 1 can of tinned chopped tomatoes

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, diced finely

Generous handful of breadcrumbs

Parmesan, Pecorino Romano or 'Hard Cheese shaker' etc

Herbs such as Basil ( optional)

Fry off the onion and garlic in a little oil, until softened.

Grease a large dish approx 12 inches by 8.

Dip the courgettes into the egg mixture followed by the flour mixture then place in the base of your dish.

Add a layer of sliced tomatoes or canned toms, using half

Sprinkle over some herbs

Sprinkle over half of the onion mixture

Add another layer of courgettes

Add another layer of tomatoes

Add herbs

Add onion mixture

Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the surface

Grate some Parmesan over this - not too much

Drizzle with oil

Bake in the oven for 45 mins at 180 GM5.

Recommended Variations:

I really like to add some mozarella in the middle of the courgette layers.

OR add some sliced haloumi to the top just after the tomatoes and before the breadcrumbs

My husband's favourite version is when I add some chopped bacon to the onion mix & cheddar cheese on the top.

I have also added sliced sausage or chorizo to change things up a little.

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