We have a farm or a very big vegetable garden, the size of 700 m2 to 900 m2 here in Ghent, Belgium. In the beginning somebody shared about 250 m2 with us. It was smaller, but of course it’s big enough for us to grow all kinds of vegetables. You can imagine we almost didn’t need to buy any vegetables when we did our groceries. The problem is, it’s really very shady which is difficult to grow sun loving plants like tomatoes, squash etc. Anyway we got the chance to expand our part last year. So now we have a shady and not so shady farm.
Having a bigger part doesn’t mean you’ll have a better harvest. My harvest is very little this year. Or I can say the worst year ever. Part of the reason is due to the drought. In May, we only had 3 mm of rain for the whole month. It’s the worst drought we’ve ever had since 1833 here in Belgium. In spring I put a lot of seeds directly on the soil, but they just didn’t germinate due to the drought. On the other hand, weeds were growing silently. After it rained, those weeds suddenly took over a big part. Now it’s a bit out of control. It’s frustrating to see those weeds growing like this. I even feel so embarrassed to take a picture of our farm, because we always had the weeds under control. Never like this. This year, I spent a lot more time doing weeding, but they just grow back so fast.
Apart from the weeds, the drought is also not helping. The plants are smaller than normal. Our peas, sugar snaps, lettuce, and French beans, and broad beans are all smaller than before. Thank goodness, it starts to rain recently, our squash has started to grow. The result of the rain is that we have an abundant harvest of courgettes or zucchinis.
Courgette is very easy to grow. It just needs a lot of water. During the dry period, I almost wanted to give up as the plants were all very small. Finally it rained in June, and the courgette suddenly got very big and produced a lot as well. Until now, we’ve harvested five times and we already gave away 6 courgettes. And there are some more waiting in the farm for us to give them away of course.
Every year I grow the same kind of courgettes: golden zucchinis and Tondo de nice since they are very tender and not always available from the supermarket. For this recipe, I use those fresh harvest ones from our plot, but you can use what you can find from the market, it’s fine.
2 red paprika, deseeded and cut into wedges
1 yellow courgette, sliced into rounds
1 round courgette, (mine is from our garden, you can just use normal green courgette or two yellow courgette or any other different kind) chopped into thin pieces.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
lemon, zested (I use 1 small lemon, if yours is big then just use 1/2 of it)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp pine nuts
sprigs of fresh oregano to serve
Step by Step
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Put the sliced paprika wedges on a large baking tray. Mix together 2 tbsp of the oil with the dried oregano, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Drizzle the seasoning over the vegetables and mix everything together before spreading the vegetables out in an even layer. Leave half or 2/3 of seasoning for later.
Roast for about 20 mins, (the roasting time is different from oven to oven, sometimes it might take longer. So you need to feel it what’s the best timing for you) then take the tray out of the oven and add the sliced courgettes and remaining seasoning. Toss everything together, then put it back in the oven for another 15 mins.
Take the vegetables out from the oven again, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and roast for another 5 mins.
In the meantime, place pine nuts in a dry (don't add oil) frying pan, turn heat to medium-low and cook until fragrant and golden brown, keeping them moving constantly.
Now you can serve the dish on a large platter and sprinkle over the pine nuts.