“Zucchine ripiene”, Italian for “stuffed courgettes”, is such a commonplace Summery dish around these parts that butchers sell them already prepared for you – all you have to do is cook them. I wrote a post about them a while ago (six years ago! – here’s the link: https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/stuffed-courgettes-zucchine-ripiene/ ). In that post, I showed how I did the stuffing myself. This time, I had bought the ready-to-go courgettes from the butcher’s. That time, I cooked them in a saucepan … THIS time, I decided to bake them in the oven.
In my last post, I confessed to my not being the best of gardeners, not even when it comes to herbs and the balcony. Except for basil and marjoram, and this year rosemary too thank Goodness, I find that some of the herbs can be a bit on the ‘precious’ side (not tarragon, bless it). There is, however, ONE very Roman exception-herb that is wholeheartedly generous, so generous indeed that it just ‘sprouts’ and grows on its own, without the slightest bit of help from anyone: and that is the “mentuccia romana” or “pennyroyal” as it is called in English. Hands up anyone who’s even heard of pennyroyal, let alone used it. Right? Right …
Here it is, playing peekaboo from the bottom of a flower pot.
And here is another one … just like Topsy, the character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, who claimed that she did not know where she came from, she “just grewed”.
Mentuccia is very often the preferred herb in Rome for stuffing artichokes. Some prefer parsely – some a mix of the two. I have added a bit of mentuccia to a tomato sauce for a pasta dish. A little goes a long way, it is quite potent. That day, I was feeling very daring, and decided to depart on two accounts from the traditional way of cooking stuffed courgettes. A) I would add mentuccia and B) I would bake them in the oven, instead of braising them on the cooker/stove top. I am such a rebel … a pennyroyal iconoclast.
Just a splash of olive oil and then a few sprigs of mentuccia.
In go the stuffed courgettes and a layer of cut up tomatoes. Salt too.
And now … bake in a preheated oven at around 200°C for 50 minutes or until done.
Forgot to mention that I baked them with the lid ‘on’. If you haven’t got a lid you could always use aluminium foil.
Very easy to make. And the mentuccia did indeed add a little bit of ooomph.
Warning: this dish needs to be served with plenty of bread to soak up all the lovely sauce. A glass of wine … or two … to keep the conviviality going.