In my experience, olives are a food that nobody starts off liking; it takes perseverance, trust in the other people who tell you they are delicious, and a little time for your taste buds to get there. But once you get there, that’s when the magic happens. Even though I’ve been an olive fan for over a decade, I still remember going through this process and know so many other people who have done too. Funny, isn’t it? Are you an olive fan…yet?
I’ve been in olive heaven lately trying out some of Fragata’s range of Spanish olives and antipasti. Fragata have ninety years of experience producing olives and frequently appear in my kitchen. For this recipe I used Fragata’s pitted halkidiki olives with lemon and garlic – they lend a delicious extra flavour to the sauce and, once the olives are all eaten, the gorgeous oil they are marinated in can be kept for cooking and to add to dressings.
This Courgette Cannelloni is perfect as a lighter, gluten-free alternative to pasta. Courgette pasta is also a sneaky way to get more veggies into your dinner.
For a vegan version, a melting dairy-free grated cheese works a treat but you could also skip the cheese and add a tablespoon of nutritional yeast in with the creamy courgette sauce to create a cheesy flavour.
- 4 medium courgettes (zucchini), top and tailed
- 1tbsp olive oil
- For the filling:
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 leeks, sliced into rounds
- 3 bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green, or colours of your choice), chopped into 1cm pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes
- 1tbsp tomato purée
- 80g (drained weight) lemon and garlic marinated Halkidiki olives or pitted green olives and 1tbsp lemon juice, halved lengthways
- ½tsp dried thyme
- Black pepper to taste
- For the topping:
- 4tbsp milk or plant-based milk (I used almond)
- 75g Cheddar cheese or melting vegan cheese, grated
- To make the courgette tubes, cut each courgette into two and use a sharp slim knife to hollow out the inside of each tube, leaving the edge around 4-5mm thick. Set the inside of the courgette to one side.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C, 350F or Gas Mark 4.
- Place a large saucepan or frying pan onto the hob over a medium high heat. Once the pan has warmed, add the olive oil and heat for a minute. Add the onion, leeks and peppers. Cook for around four to five minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
- Add the garlic and stir well. Add the tomatoes and tomato purée, mix well and simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
- At this point add the courgette tubes and 1tbsp olive oil to an oven-proof dish. Ensure the courgette tubes are coated in the oil and place in the oven.
- Add the marinated olives (or olives and lemon juice), thyme and black pepper according to your taste. Simmer for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, add the courgette flesh and milk to a food processor and blend into a smooth creamy paste. Set aside.
- Remove the dish with the courgette tubes from the oven. Using either kitchen tongs or a fork to hold each of the tubes, stuff them with the filling. Spoon out any leftover filling in the dish to surround the courgette tubes.
- Top the dish with the creamy courgette topping and sprinkle over your preferred cheese. Return to the oven and bake for around twenty minutes or until the courgette tubes are tender and the topping has browned.
Have you ever tried courgette in place of pasta? What dishes have you tried?