Great fry off: the humble courgette transforms into delightfully fluffy patties

Light, tasty with a bit of crunch, these courgette recipes put spring itself in your step 

Courgette fritters

Makes 14

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 8-12 minutes

I always seem to grow far too many courgettes (zucchini), so I am constantly looking to others for ideas as to what to do with them. I got this recipe from a friend and it makes a delicious lunch or snack with humous and a glass of Dutch gin. The fritters can be cooked ahead of time and kept warm in the oven, but they must not be piled on top of each other or they will sweat and go soggy. Spread them out so they can dry slightly. 

2 courgettes (zucchini)
2 tbsp self-raising flour 
1 egg
25g (¼ cup) finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra if needed
Salt and pepper 
​Humous to serve 

Grate the courgettes (zucchini) and press them between paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Place in a bowl, add the flour, egg, parmesan and salt and pepper and mix well. Divide into 14 equal pieces and roll into balls. Gently flatten each ball into a patty about 1cm thick. 

Heat a large non-stick frying pan or skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Pan fry a batch of patties for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm. Add more oil to the pan if necessary and cook the remaining patties in the same way. 

Serve the fritters with humous, either immediately or warm from the oven. 

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Purple reign: if this doesn’t tempt the beetroot-averse nothing will

Beetroot bake with parmesan

Serves 3-4

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 2¼ hours

It is a great pity that many people will not eat beetroot – I guess it is a hangover from school days. I think it has a much more interesting flavour and texture than potato, and maybe this is just the dish to convert them. Can anyone resist baked cream and parmesan? I could very easily eat a whole dish of this on its own, although it is also wonderful with a good roast chicken. Do try to hunt down some decent Parmesan – it is worth the effort. Christopher’s niece Olivia Eller brings a good quality parmesan over from France for me, and it is so much better than the supermarket version. 

Butter, for greasing
7 raw golf-ball-size beetroot 
1 tsp finely chopped dill leaves
4 tbsp double cream
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat the oven to 150C / gas mark 2. Butter a 25cm diameter baking dish. 

Twist the leaves of the beetroots but leave the long roots attached. Gently wash off any soil, then place the beets on a double thickness of aluminium foil and wrap loosely. Put the parcel (package) on a baking sheet and bake for about 2 hours, or until the beets are tender all the way through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then cut off the roots and tops and peel off the skin. 

Increase the oven temperature to 200C / gas mark 6. 

Slice the beetroot about ¼ inch thick and arrange the slices in the prepared dish. Whisk the chopped dill into the cream in a small bowl and spoon it evenly over the beetroot. Sprinkle with the parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper. Put the dish back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or so until everything is heated through and the parmesan is starting to brown. 

 

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Jolly green oven: kale works a treat with a few usual suspects and lemon zest 

Crispy kale with sea salt and lemon

Serves 4

Preparation: 8 minutes
Cooking: 10-15 minutes

For me, one of the best things about Great Dixter being open to the public is the opportunity to exchange recipes and vegetable-growing tips with visitors. This recipe comes from a lady I got talking to one day when I was working in the garden. I tried it that same night and loved it. Since then, lots of friends have taken the recipe home with them after eating it here. It makes a fantastic side dish with grilled fish or chicken: the lemon really cuts through the oil and lightens the earthy flavour of the kale. It’s also a delicious appetizer with a chilled glass of wine or champagne before lunch or dinner. Note that it’s important to chop the kale yourself – the stuff sold in supermarkets is chopped too small. 

165 g whole kale leaves, tough stems and ribs removed, and torn or roughly chopped into 8-10cm pieces 
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon 
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dash cayenne pepper
¼ tsp salt 
¼ tsp pepper 

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Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4. Put the kale into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, cayenne, salt and pepper and use your hands to massage the seasonings into the leaves. Lay them at on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through, until crisp and lightly browned. 

Sprinkle the lemon zest over the crisps before serving. 

The Great Dixter Cookbook: Recipes from an English Garden by Aaron Bertelsen is published by Phaidon (24.95)

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