What a whopper!
There comes a time in a man's life when he starts to think about marrows and what to do them especially when he has an abundance of them on his allotment. I've had one residing in my fridge for over a week now and have visited the green behemoth daily, staring at it long and hard whilst squatting on my haunches and scratching my chin before finally letting out a puff of exasperation and closing the door. You see the problem is that I find it hard to get excited about this particular vegetable, which is just an overgrown courgette after all. In its infant state, it is actually quite versatile, you can use courgettes to make pasta sauces, to put in risotto, fritters, soups, salads, souffles, to make tarts, cakes, chutneys and not forgetting that you can use the flowers also (which I have yet to do). But it is my opinion once they grow into marrows they become bloated, tasteless and quite boring, like some faded Hollywood starlet. Still, I decided that last night something must be done. This marrow should not be destined for the great compost heap at the end of my garden, it should end up in my tummy.
During the week I did a bit of recipe research on t'internet or twitter to be more specific and it seems that there are quite a few nutty marrow fans out there with various random ideas as to how to use the damn things. Stuffed marrow with minced pork and prawn in black bean sauce, grated marrow with chilli and garlic and marrow cannelloni were amongst some of the suggestions that came back to me. I must admit despite my reservations, they all sounded pretty appetising and I will certainly give them a go in the future but when a further google search led me to a certain chain-smoking ginger gnome on the BBC website, I thought "This is it! This is the one!".
I am of course talking about Mr Anthony Worrel Thompson who proposed a two pronged assault to enlighten the taste buds to the delights of marrow with his recipe of Chorizo, pepper and couscous stuffed marrow and rosemary roasted marrow.
I am pleased to report that it was all very easy to prepare and as there was just the two of us, I simply peeled and halved the marrow that I had been coveting all week for the separate parts of the recipe. I did deviate slightly by cutting one half into thin slices rather than keep it whole for stuffing. The reason being I wanted to employ a tip from Niamh to salt the marrow to draw out some of the water and condense the flavour. By slicing it thinly, I figured the process would be quicker and then I could layer the slices and couscous mix in a shallow dish making a kind of lasagne type affair. Of course I didn't figure on some of the slices having seeds though the middle (ha and I have the cheek to call myself an allotmenteer!) but what the hell, seeds are meant to be nutritional powerhouses aren't they?!
I'm melting, I'm melting!
The end result was a pleasant surprise. The roast marrow with garlic and rosemary married up quite well with the parmesan as it melted nice and gooey over the chunks . As for the couscous construction, the background flavours of mint, coriander and lemon gave it a real summery lift with the chorizo adding a lovely spicy contrast. I think that perhaps next time I would salt the marrow a bit longer as it was still a little bit too watery tasting for my liking but the flavour certainly wasn't as bland as I've encountered before. Saying that, I've just realised that I haven't really explained why I didn't rate this vegetable in the first place. You see. back in my yoof, whenever it was served up at the family dinner table, it used to be simply boiled or steamed (just the way Dad likes it) so can you understand where I'm coming from now? But maybe after this experiment and a couple more, I could get a little crazy for it myself.
Roasting pepper (or is that burning?)
Chorizo, pepper and couscous layered with sliced marrow and rosemary roasted marrow
I'm liking the sound of Niamh's marrow lasagne.
I was concerned that this 'oversized courgette' would be bland but it was quite tasty.
That said, I've got a lot of time for chorizo and a small addiction to burning peppers over a gas flame.