If there's one over-riding reason why I don't post many savoury recipes, it's because I don't often follow a recipe when I make something for dinner. Obviously there's a general template to follow to produce something like a lasagne, or a sausage pie, and I'm often inspired by recipes I've read, but I don't make things exactly the same every time, and I don't often take note of the quantities I use, particularly when I add things to adjust the flavour and seasoning as I go along. Generally, cooking of this sort is a lot more forgiving than baking cakes, where more precision is usually needed.
I did take a bit more notice while I was making this gratin, partly because Hubs has accused me of thwarting his efforts to lose weight by making too many cakes and desserts, so I might have less to post unless I write about my savoury cooking. As I say, I took a bit more notice, but it's still a fairly loose recipe - a little more or less of anything would probably have worked just as well, and it could easily be made a vegetarian recipe by leaving out the bacon and choosing a vegetarian-compatible cheese. I used this recipe by Ina Garten as inspiration.
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
half an onion, finely chopped
100g smoked bacon or pancetta pieces
3 medium courgettes - around 500g - cut into 0.5cm slices
1 clove garlic, crushed
12 sage leaves, finely shredded
1 tablespoon plain flour
milk, as necessary - roughly 200mls
salt and pepper to taste
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
50g grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon pine nuts
Heat the oil on a medium heat, in a large frying pan, and fry the bacon pieces and onion until the bacon is beginning to brown. Lower the heat a little and add the courgettes and garlic, and continue frying, turning occasionally, until the courgettes are beginning to soften.
Add the sage leaves, then stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the milk gradually, allowing the sauce to thicken between additions. There will be more liquid coming out of the courgettes as the gratin bakes in the oven, so you want a very thick coating sauce at this stage, otherwise there will be too much thin sauce at the end of cooking. Season to taste - I didn't need any extra salt because of the bacon. Put this mixture into an ovenproof dish.
Mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and pine nuts, and scatter in an even layer over the courgette mixture. Bake at 180C for 45 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and golden and the courgettes are really soft.
Looking at the photographs, I feel I ought to explain the idiosyncrasy of cutting mange tout peas in half. Hubs is basically lazy, so eats with just a fork where possible (although just a spoon is even better!). Mange tout peas sometimes have a long stringy bit along one side - if you haven't got a knife handy, this can make them unpleasant to eat whole, as well as difficult to fit into your mouth!