Despite the fact that summer is well under way, I have been very much under the weather for a few weeks. I dislike being ill and feel quite annoyed with Hong Kong in general for making me so frequently full of cold and coughs. There are various potential causes – consistent use of air con, breathing in heavily polluted air, spending my days amongst people who do not cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze (oh that I could just blame that on children, but a grown man once sneezed on my bare arm – it was grotesque).
When I’m all bunged up, besides feeling sorry for myself, I also like to drink lots of orange juice, eat lots of greens and exert myself as little as possible. Not much exertion is needed for this dish, and it’s bursting with delicious green courgettes. So even if you’re not feeling quite your best, try this sformatini di zucchine – or, if you’re not quite up to the fancy Italian title, courgette flan in a parmesan basket.
Sformatini di Zucchine
Serves 6, slightly adapted from The Vegeterranean
13 tbsp vegetarian parmesan
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 courgettes, coarsely grated
1 tsp dry marjoram
2 egg whites
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut out 6x13cm circles of greaseproof paper and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the parmesan onto each. Place on a baking tray. (I just used one large sheet of paper because I was only making one – individual greaseproof circles will help at stage 3.
2. Pop it into the oven for about 4-5 minutes until golden brown – on reflection, mine could have done with another minute.
3. Let it stand for a minute or so, then place the circles paper-side-up over a glass or dish in the desired shape. I greased the glass first to prevent sticking, but this may not be necessary. I gently tried to mould it make the shape more basket-y. Leave aside to set.
4. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the shallot for 1 minute.
5. Add the courgette, marjoram and a good grind of pepper and cook over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes until no more juices are being released. Set aside to cool slightly.
6. Beat together the ricotta and remaining tablespoon of parmesan.
7. Beat together the egg and whites. Add this to the cheese mixture and beat well again.
8. Tip the courgette mixture in too and combine everything.
9. Spoon the mixture into silicone muffin cases (I greased some and not others, and they all popped out perfectly). Place into a dish and fill it with boiling water halfway up the cake cases.
10. Cover with foil and cook for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch.
11. Plate up! Stick a parmesan basket in the centre of each plate and gently turn out the courgette flan into the middle.