Baked stuffed Provençal courgettes


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These stuffed courgettes are typical fare in Provençe – the region that hugs the Mediterranean coastline in the South of France. Vegetables, olives and olive oil are used in abundance in Provençe, and this recipe really captures the sun and fragrance of this much-loved area. There are numerous recipes for these famous stuffed vegetables, but this one is my favourites, a lighter recipe that uses chicken in place of minced beef.

As well as lean, minced chicken breast, I used fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions and herbs for the stuffing mixture, and also pre-baked the courgette shells beforehand to ensure everything was cooked to perfection. If you are lover of red meat, by all means use minced beef, and likewise, if you are vegetarian, omit the meat and add some cooked rice in its place. These make a wonderful light luncheon dish for al fresco summer dining, and are just as tasty when eaten at room temperature.

I have stipulated small ‘round’ courgettes in this recipe, but you can use large beefsteak tomatoes, onions and aubergines too, it’s sometimes nice to stuff an assortment of vegetables this way, so your diners have a choice of which vegetable they prefer. Try wherever possible to source fresh herbs, as dry herbs don’t really work in this recipe. Just use regional herbs that are in season – thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, savory, lavender and marjoram work particularly well.

You can prepare most of this recipe in advance by pre-baking the courgette shells and cooking the filling – this will prove very handy for all busy mums and dads who work. Serve these delicious stuffed veg with a simple side salad, crusty bread to mop up the juices and a glass of wine.




Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Grease a roasting tin or a tian (earthenware dish) with some olive oil
Cut the tops off the courgettes, keeping them to use as lids. Using a pointed spoon, hollow out centres of the courgettes, leaving a shell of about 1.5cm thick. Place the courgettes in the oiled tin or tian and bake for about 30–35 minutes, until they are just soft but still retain their shape
Meanwhile, roughly chop the courgette flesh. Add a tablespoon of oil to a large frying pan and sauté the flesh until it is soft. Spoon the flesh into a bowl and set it to one side. Add some more oil to the pan and add the onions – fry them until they are translucent and soft, adding the garlic for the last few minutes
Add the tomatoes and tomato purée to the onion mixture and fry until the tomatoes are soft and have collapsed. Add the chopped fresh herbs and the cooked courgette flesh, stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and set it to one side
Add some more oil to the pan and cook the chicken mince until it is lightly coloured and cooked. Add it to the onion and tomato mixture, mix well and adjust the seasoning to taste
Spoon the mixture into the vegetables and place the tops back on top of the courgettes. Drizzle a little olive oil over and around the stuffed vegetables and bake for 30 minutes, or until well browned and the vegetables are soft, but still holding their shape
Serve tepid or at room temperature, with the cooking liquor drizzled around the courgettes and some chopped oregano or thyme sprinkled over them. All that is needed now is some crusty bread, good wine, good company and maybe some sun!
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