Sunday 8 June 2014

Low-Carb Griddled Baby Butternut with Chorizo, Feta & a Lemon Dressing

This beautiful black plate is the work of my uncle, master potter
David Walters of Franschhoek. The shiny black slick of glaze
 across the plate is designed to stop your fork from grating.
I seldom see these beautiful baby vegetables in the shops, and when I do spy them, I grab a few punnets and race home to cook them. They're similar to courgettes [zucchini] but have a nuttier, sweeter flavour, a denser texture and a beautiful pale-orange colour.

In this easy tapas-style dish, I've griddled them until just tender, and combined them with fried chorizo, crumbled feta and a garlicky lemon vinaigrette, with toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch.  If you can't find baby butternuts, use courgettes, sliced into thick leaves.

I haven't been able to figure out the carbohydrate content of these veggies, but I had a great big bowl of them for lunch, and they didn't cause any spike in my blood sugar, so I can assume their carbohydrate content and glycaemic load is negligible.  This recipe is suitable for anyone on a low-carb, #LCHF or diabetic regime.

The chorizo sausage I used in for this dish wasn't the best in its class, but was all that was available at my local supermarket. The gorgeous smoky note it adds to this dish makes all the difference, and I'm looking forward to trying this with an excellent Italian cured sausage, or with crisp-fried bacon bits.

Wine recommendation from Michael Oliver: La Bri Merlot 2012. 

Low-Carb Griddled Baby Butternut with Chorizo, Feta and a Lemon Dressing

600 g baby butternut (or courgettes, if you can't find mini butternuts)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil, for frying
1 spicy chorizo sausage, sliced
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 'wheel' (about 70 g) feta cheese
1/3 cup (80 ml) pumpkin seeds [optional]
salt and milled black pepper to taste
baby salad leaves, to serve

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, peeled (or more, to taste)
a pinch of flaky sea salt
½ tsp (2.5 ml) prepared Dijon mustard, or a big pinch of Hot English Dry Mustard powder
the juice of a small lemon
4 Tbsp (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Rinse the baby butternuts (or courgettes) under cold running water to remove any grit.  Cut lengthways into slices about 7 mm thick.

Add the chorizo slices towards the
end of the cooking time so their smoky
flavour permeates the veggies. 
Heat a griddle pan, or a large flat pan, over a very high heat. Add the olive oil and - when it is shimmering -  arrange the baby butternut slices in a single layer on the pan.  Cook over a medium-high heat for about 5 minutes on each side (three if you're using courgettes) or until toasty and golden on the outside, and just tender on the inside.  Watch them closely, adjusting the heat if necessary because they scorch quickly.

Two minutes before the veggies are ready, add the sliced chorizo, and fry until hot and crisp. Now add a generous spritz of lemon juice. As soon as the juice has evaporated, remove the pan from the heat, set aside and keep warm. Season to taste with salt and milled black pepper.

While the butternut slices are cooking, make the dressing. Put the garlic and salt into a mortar and pound to a paste.  Add the mustard and lemon juice and stir until the salt has dissolved.

Now whisk in the olive oil to form a smooth emulsion.  If the dressing seems a bit sharp, add a pinch of white sugar. Set aside.

Place the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan and toast over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until they are hot and crunchy.

To serve, lightly blot the baby-butternut and chorizo slices with kitchen paper to remove any grease.  Arrange them on a platter, sprinkle over the dressing - just enough to coat the slices -  and scatter with the toasted pumpkin seeds, baby salad leaves and crumbled feta.

Serve hot or warm.

Serves 4 as a starter. 

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