Working in Sardinia last summer had its perks, and one of those was a chef. He made the most amazing traditional food from rotisserie suckling pig and homemade pastas to local sea truffles and mussels seasoned with wine and herbs. One of my favourite dishes he made was a vegetable he called zucchini Milanese, which presumably is courgettes Milan style.
This has turned out to be a fail-safe vegetarian option (obviously minus the pancetta!) compared with the cous-cous stuffed peppers or mushrooms usually on offer. They are delicious served with salad and crusty bread and can even make a robust and satisfying meal in themselves, sans meat or fish, if again, you omit the pancetta.
I couldn’t find a recipe for them anywhere on my return to Britain but had luckily asked him how he made them. Here is what I could remember of them and they turned out almost as good as his.
2 large courgettes, or 4 small ones
A large handful of breadcrumbs
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
A few sprigs of rosemary, thyme, sage or similar
Salt and Pepper
A knob of butter
Parmesan cheese, grated
Scoop out the flesh of the courgettes, leaving a thick sided shell. Gently fry the onions in the olive oil, remove from the pan and add the pancetta. Cook hot till crispy. Once cooked add onions to the pan, lower the head and add the garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the flesh of the courgette and the knob of butter.
Once the butter has melted, scoop the mixture into the courgette cases and top with Parmesan and breadcrumbs.
When needed, put into a hot oven for around 15 minutes till brown on top and hot through.