There is the most incredible little farmer’s market in Herne Hill, a short walk over the park from where I live in Brixton. The vegetables come from organic, biodynamic farms; they're wonderfully wonky at times, are of exceptional quality and freshness, and are so reasonably priced, all of this supports the notion that a diet long on seasonal veg is colourful, nutritious, environmentally friendly (as veg is home-grown not flown), and cost effective too!
Recently I have become obsessed with courgettes. I’ve been cooking them, and baking with them in all number of ways. However, last week the baby courgettes (12 for £1!) were so cute, a wonderful deep green, and so firm, I didn’t fancy cooking them at all. This salad is therefore raw and as simple as can be to prepare. This is certainly ‘ingredient-led’ cooking, so seek out the freshest organic courgettes you can. It’s a late-summer favourite at the moment, which I absolutely can’t get enough of.
This salad serves 4 people as part of a larger meal.
12 baby courgettes
plenty of fresh thyme
handful of hazelnuts (blanched is easier, but either is fine)
small hunk of parmesan
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
juice & zest of 1 large lemon
salt & pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Roast the hazelnuts for 5 minutes until golden brown and smelling toasty. If they have skins on allow them to cool before rubbing away the skin with a tea towel, or simply your hands.
Wash and dry the courgettes, and finely slice them into approximately 2mm thick rounds.
Strip the thyme leaves for the stalks and finely grate the parmesan.
Once cool, coarsely chop the hazelnuts.
Mix everything together in a large mixing bowl, along with the lemon zest, olive oil and lemon juice – be generous with the oil and lemon here, more dressing is better than less, as it helps to soften and marinate the courgettes, ever so slightly. Season with salt & pepper.
Simply tip the salad into your serving bowl, possibly garnishing with a little extra grating of parmesan or some leaves. If this is your only ‘side salad’, as it were, rocket and cooked pearled spelt work beautifully folded through, making the salad a little more substantial, but I adore it just as it is.