Sunday, July 22, 2007
M is for Marrow
If there is one thing more boring than the taste of a marrow, it has to be visiting 7 superstores, 3 markets, 2 church fetes and 2 farm shops to find one. Normally, it’s the sort of vegetable that people try very hard to give away, making hundreds of jars of marrow chutney.
But chasing the marrow has been like trying to apprehend a fugitive. Wherever I went, the marrow had just slipped away, moments before. I took to phoning stores in advance.
"Hello? Can you tell me if you have marrows in the store?"
"Let me check. Can you hold?"
Time to listen to a Pan Pipe version of Greensleeves on a loop.
"We have five left. And another order coming in tonight."
I rushed round to the store, straight to the marrow pen but they had always flown. Someone had clearly tipped them off.
In the end I asked the local Co-op store to arrest them for me so they couldn't get away. When I arrived they were grimacing at me from behind customer services with a label, ‘Reserved for Charlotte.’ “We haven’t had anyone reserve a marrow before,” said the manager.
Freddie looked suspiciously at these bloated green boulders. “It just looks like a giant courgette.” He has a point. Is the marrow simply an obese courgette?
I planned the marrow recipes with care. It has a tendency to be watery, a little stringy in texture and very, very bland. Which is why, I suppose everyone ends up stuffing it with flavour. I used the fragrance of the basmati, raisins and cinammon to inject a bit of excitement.
Stuffed Marrow with basmati rice and raisins
150gr basmati rice (uncooked weight)
400g of chopped tomatoes
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pine nuts
Half a tsp of dried herbs
2 tbsp raisins
Half a tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
50 g of parmesan cheese
Slice the marrow in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Lightly criss-cross the white marrow flesh with a knife and drizzle a little olive oil on top. Season with salt and pepper and put in a preheated oven at 180C for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the basmati rice according to instructions. When cooked, put the rice in a bowl with the cinnamon and raisins.
In a large pan on a medium heat, sauté the finely chopped onion, crushed garlic and herbs in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the pine nuts and sauté till they are lightly browned.
Add the rice to the onion mixture and stir round on a low heat. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a tbsp of honey and stir for a further 3 minutes. Take out the marrow halves from the oven and place each one on a piece of foil, large enough to create a parcel. Spoon half the rice mixture into each half and seal up the foil parcels. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
After 25 minutes, unwrap the foil parcels and sprinkle on the parmesan cheese and cook for the final five minutes with the foil opened up. Serve hot.
As for Freddie, he gave this 6 out of 10, ate the rice and tried to avoid eating the marrow.