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We were lucky enough to be given a rather impressive looking courgette plant by the mother-in-law last week. It had a few fully grown courgettes on it already, just begging to picked. It’s also a lovely addition to the garden, and our modest but growing selection of home produce. Ever since it came into our possession we have been looking for a decent recipe to put them to a tasty use.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that we found a delicious courgette pasta recipe in our new favourite pasta cookbook…Gino D’Acampo’s ‘Pasta’. I’ve decided that I’m now going to refer to these posts as my ‘Weekly Gino Blogspot’. Anyhow, in essence it’s a cheesy pasta bake with added Milano salami and courgettes. But boy, does it taste good. Plus, it’s a one pot dinner. Perfect for the mid week menu. The full ingredients list and cooking method can be found in the book.

To make our version of this dinner (serves four generously) you will need:
– Four tablespoons of EV olive oil
– Two large courgettes (cut into half a centimetre cubes)
– 400g of tortiglioni pasta (Gino suggests penne, but we thought this worked a treat)
– 250g of Milano salami
– 85g of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
– Three tablespoons of fresh flat leaf parsley (we omitted this)
– Butter for greasing
– Salt and black pepper to taste

For the béchamel sauce:
– 50g of unsalted butter
– 50g of plain flour
– 500ml of cold full-fat milk
– Half a teaspoon of paprika
– A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Method:
– Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the courgettes for five minutes. Stir occasionally. Season and set aside.
– Next prepare the béchamel. Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute until it turns light brown in colour. Gradually stir in the cold milk, reduce the heat and cook for ten minutes, whisking continuously. When thickened, add the paprika and nutmeg. Stir well and put to one side to cool.
– Meanwhile, cook the tortiglioni in a pan of salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain and place into a large bowl, then add the salami, courgettes, parsley (if you’re using it), half of the parmesan cheese and half of the béchamel sauce. Gently mix everything together.
– Pre-heat the grill to a medium-high heat. Take an ovenproof dish (around 22cm with sides at least 4cm deep) and butter the inside. Pour the pasta into the dish, cover with the rest of the béchamel sauce and sprinkle the rest of the parmesan over the top.
– Place the dish under the preheated grill and cook for fifteen minutes, until golden and crispy.
– Leave to rest for five minutes to allow it to set (making it easier to cut) then serve.

I thought that this dish was wonderful. Substantial, cheesy, meaty, creamy, soft, yet crispy. A marvellous mix of textures and tastes that all come together to make a highly comforting plate. We both agreed, however, that if anything, you could possibly get away with a little less meat (never thought I would hear myself say that). It has to be said, meals always taste better with home grown vegetables too…not to mention that they cost less to make. Get planting folks…

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