Courgette tart (Scarpaccia)


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400g small courgettes, with flowers still attached if possible, or 3 medium courgettes
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 medium eggs
75g plain flour
125ml semi-skimmed milk (or half full-fat milk, half water)
3 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
50g thinly sliced Parma ham, cut into 2cm strips
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 tbsp virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
Flaked sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

This recipe is from the Tuscany region of Italy and it's a kind of large savoury pancake, topped with courgettes and other goodies. It makes a lovely little appetiser to serve with drinks. Si's sister told us that it's called "bad shoe tart". Apparently, a bad shoe is one that lots of people have worn, so a bad shoe tart is one that you can put anything you like into.

Trim the flowers from the courgettes and put them to one side. Cut the courgettes into long thin slices – each about the thickness of a £1 coin. Place them in a colander, sprinkling the fine sea salt between the layers, and leave to stand for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7. Line a 23 x 33cm Swiss roll tin or similar with baking parchment and brush it with olive oil.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl with the flour and milk (or milk and water), then stir with a wooden spoon to make a smooth batter – like a pancake batter.

Slice the courgette flowers into thin strips, if using. Rinse the courgettes to remove the salt, then pat them dry with kitchen roll or a clean tea towel. Stir the courgettes, courgette flowers, spring onions, garlic, ham and all but 3 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese into the batter. Season with a pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Pour everything into the prepared tin – the mixture shouldn't be more than 1cm thick. Drizzle the olive oil over the top, sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. When the tart is cooked, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and cut into squares to serve.

From "The Hairy Bikers' Big Book of Baking", Orion Books