National Vegetarian Week: Courgette Conkers Recipe

ImageOne of the great joys of putting together Schumacher College’s second family and community cook book, has been finding the opportunity to harvest some of the delicious recipes our dedicated team of cooks have been conjuring up. In response to frequent demand, some of these recipes will shortly be available in the sequel to Gaia’s Kitchen, Gaia’s Feasts.

These tasty courgette mouthfuls have been evolved by our Vegetarian Chef Ruth Rae, who says she loves the recipe because it’s ‘hard to get wrong’. If the mixture is too runny you need only add more breadcrumbs, if too dry, add a little more grated courgette. This is an excellent recipe for using up surpluses of overgrown marrow too.

These courgette balls should be made about the same size as a green conker – before it comes out of its shell. In fact, at the suggestion of our gardener Jane Gleeson, we’ve named them “conkers” in honour of the great horse chestnut tree that stands on the front lawn. This great tree is still focal point and inspiration to many who come here despite age and recent visits from the tree-surgeons.

Serve with potato wedges and some homemade chutney, fresh tomato sauce or sour cream.                                                                         

For 6     
500g (1 lb 2 oz/3 cups) courgette or marrow, grated
1 medium onion, diced finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
10 sage leaves, finely chopped
150g (5½/1¼ cups) cheddar, preferably smoked
150g (5½ oz/1½ cups) bread crumbs, brown or white
1 egg
For 45-50
4 kg (9 lb)
2-3 tbsp crushed
1 cup chopped (70-100g)
1.2kg (2 lb 12 oz)
1.2 kg (2 lb 12 oz)
8 eggs


  1.  Wash the courgette or marrow. If the marrow is old and tough-skinned, peel it, before grating. Collect in a bowl and salt well before tipping into a colander and leaving to drain for 20 minutes – put another bowl under the colander to catch the drips.
  2. Saute the finely chopped onion and minced garlic in olive oil until tender.
  3. The bread crumbs can be made by tearing up stale bread and quickly whizzing up in your food processor*.
  4. Finely chop the herbs and grate the cheese.
  5. Rinse the courgette in cold water then wring it out by pressing it against the walls of the colander to remove surplus moisture.
  6. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, season well and form into snooker-size balls or sausages. Place your courgette nuggets a little apart on a non-stick baking parchment and bake in the oven at 190.c (375.f/gas 5) for 20 minutes or until golden brown and set.

*TIP: whenever you have old bits of bread or crust lying around unwanted, cut or tear them up and whizz them into crumbs in your food processor using the knife attachment. Accumulate these in a plastic bag in the freezer until needed for a recipe which uses moist (as opposed to bone-dry) bread crumbs.

ImageJulia Ponsonby is the author of two vegetarian cookbook, both of which focus on cooking for larger communities of 45-50 people as much as for smaller groups pf 5-6 people.

Gaia’s Kitchen: vegetarian recipes for family and community is available online and through most bookshops.

Gaia’s Feasts: New vegetarian recipes for family and community will be published on the 4th September 2014.

Image     Image

Photo Credits:
‘Courgette Conkers’ photo by Joanna Brown
Julia Ponsonby photo by Delia Spatareanu


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