I’m already hankering after summer. This recipe is an ode to hot summers days and dinner in the garden and holidaying abroad. It’s not at all seasonal, but I had to satisfy my cravings for summer somehow, and if I can’t hop on a plane I can certainly track down some sunshine flavours from lands far hotter than this one. The recipe is from BBC Good Food, with just a few changes of my own – the addition of red chilli for a spicy kick and lemon zest instead of juice for ultra-lemony flavour (plus, this dish seems wet enough without adding more liquid). I also find their quantities a bit odd – if you use 4 courgettes you’ll end up with rather a lot more rolls than 24!
This is the ideal bite-size canapé. We had ours with glasses of Prosecco, as nibbles before the main event of homemade pizzas, but they would work really well as part of a big antipasto platter. Buy some good quality cheese and meats, put out bowls of olives and marinated artichokes and a basket of fresh bread, and you’ll have yourself the perfect sharing starter, if not a meal in itself.
Ingredients (makes between 25-35 small rolls)
25g pine nuts
1 small red chilli, seeds removed and flesh finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 small bunch of basil, finely chopped
2 small courgettes
Salt and pepper
1. Put the pine nuts into a dry frying pan and turn on a low heat. Keep an eye on the pine nuts, stirring with a wooden spoon, as they can catch and burn in the blink of an eye.
You’ll know when to remove them from the heat as they will turn dark brown and you will be able smell the nutty oils in the air. Set aside to cool for later.
2. Add the finely chopped chilli and the lemon zest to the ricotta and mix well.
3. Stir through the chopped basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate the mixture until you are ready to stuff the courgettes.
4. Thinly slice the courgettes – to achieve super thin slices that will roll easily use a mandolin or simply a speed peeler.
5. Pour a little oil and balsamic vinegar onto a large plate (or two) and spread out the courgette slices.
Season with salt and pepper. You can now leave the courgette slices to marinade in the fridge until you are ready to roll.
6. Shortly before serving, mix the toasted pine nuts through the ricotta mixture.
Stuff the courgette by scooping a teaspoon of the ricotta onto one end of each slice. Roll and place carefully onto your serving plate.
These should be eaten soon after they have been rolled, but the ricotta mixture and the courgette slices will happily sit in the fridge for 5 or 6 hours if you’re one who likes to get ahead.
Serve with a refreshing Italian white wine, or some bubbly if you’re celebrating! Turn away from the snow outside the window, close your eyes, pop one in your mouth and imagine that the sun is beating down on your face. It’s almost like you’re in Italy! Almost.