Sunday, July 22, 2007

M is for Marrow

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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
Serves 4
150gr basmati rice (uncooked weight)
1 marrow
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.
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As for Freddie, he gave this 6 out of 10, ate the rice and tried to avoid eating the marrow.

11 comments:

  1. Marrow makes a nice soup, peel off skin, cut up into chunks and put to simmer very gently with some chopped onions and a splash of olive oil. You shouldn't need to add much water at all, the marrow will provide. Whizz with a hand blender when all is soft.

    With your onion marrow stock you can then dress it up to your preference. We use soya yoghurt swirls and nutritional yeast, but we're vegan. I guess a nice dollop of cream and parmesan would be the omni equivalent :-)

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  2. Ha! You have me here! When I saw the picture, I was with Freddie, "Looks like a zucchini!" Congratulations - it's always fun to try something really new, though more fun if it actually tastes good too.

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  3. Ursula L4:58 PM

    According to Dictionary.com:

    vegetable marrow

    noun
    1. any of various squash plants grown for their elongated fruit with smooth dark green skin and whitish flesh [syn: marrow]
    2. large elongated squash with creamy to deep green skins [syn: marrow]


    Which makes me think that "marrow" is a subcategory of "squash" and that zucchini/courgette, with its green skin and white flesh, is a particular variety of marrow.

    Since what you have is large, I'd treat it like a mature/late season zucchini. Small/young zucchini (and other marrow?) are tender, and would probably be good stuffed, as you did them, but the larger they get, the tougher, seedier and more fibrous they get. So large ones are better in recipes where they are grated, or otherwise broken down.

    Zucchini bread recipes would probably work well with your marrow.

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  4. It maybe didn't get the best of scores, but it looks good!
    Oh, by the way I picked up some eddoes while shopping. I gazed at them in recognition and decided to pick some up, but the penny didn't drop until I got home!

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  5. Robin2:23 AM

    Well, Freddie? You're halfway through the alphabet. What are you going to do when you reach the end? I think you should publish a cookbook with all your moms recipes. Good luck and I hope you continue to eat veggies.

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  6. Aaaaw, M for Marrow already and no leek pud? You will have to try it for another time for yourselves, you won't regret it. I'm actually a fan of the marrow. But you are right, it needs flavouring. Somebody delivered me two 'overgrown courgettes' last year when I was an office boy and I made 1047 jars of chutney, some of which I still have. Email me your address, I will post you some. Now then, is it worth while me sending you a very nice marrow recipe which does not entail chutney or stuffing? Its a winner!

    Cheers
    David x

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  7. It's a lesson all vegetable gardener's soon learn - forget to check the courgette plants for a couple of days (easy to do over a wet weekend) and lo! there's a marrow, and before long there are more, and they keep getting bigger!

    Squash, Courgettes, Marrows - they are all from the Cucurbita family of vegetables. You can divide them into two groups - Winter Squash which ripen in the autumn and have tough skins, they can be stored for use later in the autumn/winter; and Summer Squash which grow more quickly and aren't suitable for storing - these include Vegetable Spaghetti Squash (the cooked flesh can be pulled out and looks like spaghetti!), Patty Pan Squash (they look like little white, yellow or green pies!), courgettes or zucchini (long cylindrical or spherical and green or yellow in colour, these are picked when very young and tender, sometimes with the flower attached) and marrows (long cylindrical and allowed to grow larger - and sometimes enormous!)

    The amazing variety of shapes and colours are a vegetable sculptural feast.
    Enjoy!

    Celia

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  8. Celia - thanks for this description of squash. I think we should do an S for squash section -where we try out different types and have a bit of fun tasting them.
    Thank you

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  9. Yup, a marrow is just a grown up courgette (usually the one you didn't spot when picking).

    I hear marrow jam is nice.

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  10. Love this concept! Fun for everyone. Have used Gourd similar to the soup recipe suggested above..infact, have one in the fridge waiting to be made into soup...it turns out quite delicious.Though, honestly - never liked the soup much growing up, when my Mom made it...guess I knew it was a healthy veggie.. Now the story is different :)

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  11. That looks really good Charlotte. We were given 2 marrows last week. They're in the fridge... Might do something with them tonight.. Then again...

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