courgette salad with ricotta and chilli


Courgette, ricotta and chilli salad

Sometimes life just throws you a bone. In fact, I think life must just be throwing me whole skeletons because I am one lucky lady when I sit back and actually think about it. The amount of really cool, properly geeky food people I know is just awesome. Florian is one of these people. I believe we first met over dinner at The Ten Bells. We then proceeded to organise a food tour of South London together in which we took 21 people (some coming all the way from Germany) to see the best of Peckham, Camberwell and Brixton. We did a restaurant crawl, cooked a meal together using ingredients we’d bought at Brockley Market, Persepolis and on Rye Lane. We lunched at Frog on The Green, visited the Brickhouse Bakery and had a tour of Brixton Market. Phew!

So anyway now Florian is involved with a company called, importing some incredible produce from around the world; at present, Campania (I WANT HIS JOB). He proposed we cook an Italian feast with the ingredients from one of the boxes and so of course I said yes please let me at it now now now now NOW.

We started with mozzarella in carozza, which didn’t quite work because I couldn’t bring myself to use shitty plastic bread with the awesome mozz. I know, I never usually have a problem with these things, right? Should have trusted my instincts. Good quality bread is way too sturdy and the mozz wasn’t able to melt inside. Still, bread and cheese, innit. Pretty tasty. I made a thinly sliced courgette salad (very seasonal, ahem), topped with chilli, basil, olive oil and the most incredible ricotta I’ve ever tasted. It had a slight smoky flavour and was rich and creamy; a far cry from that thin tasting shite we get in supermarkets.

We ate slices of cured meats alongside. A salsiccia spiced with fennel and a soppressata with an amazing core of pure milky white neck fat. Florian told me that he ‘almost cried with joy’ when he first cut into it.

Then, pasta with bagnoli truffles, mushrooms and shitloads of butter. Healthy. The truffles are different to more familiar truffs and are likely to divide palates. Raw, they smell like petrol and need cooking to mellow them down. We beefed the dish with portabella mushrooms. Intense.

Grilled sea bream for the main course, baked in the oven with spring onions, lemon and herbs, salsa verde and fennel on the side. For dessert, a lemon and ricotta tart with more of that incredible cheese and the juice and candied rind of fragrant Amalfi lemons; they really are famous for a reason. We burnt the top of the tart but hey, it was fluffily gorgeous underneath. I’d love to make an Amalfi lemon sorbet in the summer.

We ate and drank and ate and drank and laughed and chatted until late (Ish. Look, it was a school night, okay?). Good friends are the ones who bring you boxes of stunning ingredients from Italy, no? Oh, and let us not forget THE LARGEST LEMON IN THE WORLD*

* It is called a procida lemon and can be used to make BOOZE! The pith can also be eaten in salads! It’s a beautiful freak to be sure.

Courgette Salad with Ricotta and Chilli

2 young slender courgettes
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
Approx 200g ricotta di bufala
Handful basil leaves, finely sliced
Lemon juice (preferably Amalfi), about half a lemon
Extra virgin olive oil

Slice the courgettes very thinly and lay out on a plate. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle the courgettes with coarse salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the chilli. Crumble over the ricotta. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle over basil leaves. Serve.

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  • Avatar
    Reply Ed January 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Lovely stuff. Still to use my ricotta and the petrol bombs, but I enjoyed the mozzarella and salsiccia in amongst an aubergine & tomato parmigiana. Great produce.

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      Reply Helen January 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      Phwoar that sounds a bit good! That ricotta is THE BOMB.

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    Reply Donald Edwards January 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    How could you have burnt something as nice sounding as the ricotta and lemon tart? Go hang your head in shame, in my house that sort of tart would have been lovingly watched every minute it was in the oven to prevent the sort of disaster you describe..

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      I know, it’s outrageous. I can’t imagine you EVER DOING ANYTHING LIKE THAT IN YOUR OWN HOUSE.

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    Reply explodyfull January 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    That looks like a pretty awesome salad!

    I have a question though, why do people always de-seed chilies? Isn’t the point of adding chilies for the spicyness?

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      Reply Helen January 21, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      I rarely de-seed chillies, actually. In this case however, a gentle spice was required. This is a beautiful ricotta cheese imported from Campania and I wanted to make sure I tasted it properly.

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    Reply Alicia (foodycat) January 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    That platter is very pretty! The food looks wonderful too. Florian sounds like good people.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 21, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks! It is a very pretty dish fo sure.

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    Reply Sophie January 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    That humungous lemon caught my eye over on flickr and *made* me visit.

    Love the raw courgette salad – have made similar with mint and chilli too which was good. I’m very jealous of both your lemon and the non-plastic ricotta

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      Well, you know where to get it!

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    Reply Miss Whiplash January 21, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    What have you done with it?

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 21, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      We’re going to make a kind of schnapps style drink

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    Reply Kavey January 21, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    We have been working our way through my box too.

    We did heat the bagnoli truffle pretty well, as I’d read on the web that they are better once heated, so we grated then cooked them in scrambled eggs but they still tasted like petrol or tar to me. I wanted a hint of the truffle taste I know and love, even if it was a little different, but sadly, it was not to be. Petrol scrambled eggs. We finished them but more because we were stubborn. I wouldn’t buy them again!

    LOVED everything else in the box.

    Now. Where do I get me a procida lemon?!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 22, 2013 at 8:05 am

      Yes I think the bagnoli Truffs are tricky customers. I’ve never tasted anything like them!

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    Reply Gene January 22, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Those lemons are so revered in South Italy that Sorrento has a muncipal citrus orchard in the middle of town. It’s not all that exciting to walk through, but I love that they took the time and space to have it!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 22, 2013 at 8:04 am


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    Reply Becs @ Lay the table January 22, 2013 at 10:57 am

    The salad looks amazing Helen! Salsiccia sounds similar to finocchiona as it has fennel in (albeit not wild). Wish I lived in London so I could get one of The Sauce boxes 🙁

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      Reply Helen January 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm

      Well you’ll just have to go to Campania. There’s nothing else for it.

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    Reply Gina January 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Oh this food makes my heart skip a beat! CAN NOT WAIT for my trip in February. Those lemons are just divine.

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      Reply Helen January 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      I’m so jealous!!

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    Reply Sally - My Custard Pie January 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Looking forward to the ‘how to make booze with the largest lemon in the world’ post.

    How lovely to have friends who will weep over food (and not just the burnt bits)

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      Reply Helen January 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      I am also VERY much looking forward to it.

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    Reply Florian January 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    @Kavey: Thanks for the feedback, so sorry you couldn’t make the bagnolis work for you. We need to become better at explaining when they work and when they don’t. Delicate flavours like egg and short cooking times are definitely not the ideal application. So, we should have told you what I’m telling you now: Robust flavours, long and low cooking times work best. Combine them with mushrooms or bacon or a beef jus, I coated beetroots in a truffle paste on sunday, that worked well, too.
    Hope you had fun with the rest of the box!

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    Reply zuko January 23, 2013 at 10:32 am

    +1 for the ‘how to make booze with the largest lemon in the world’ 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 23, 2013 at 10:35 am


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    Reply Y January 24, 2013 at 5:33 am

    Everything looks amazing! That courgette salad especially (it’s cheap here at the moment since it is in season ;)).

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