Recipe: Courgette Orzo Pasta with Lemon and Mascarpone

November. How did we get here so quickly? It felt like August not long ago and the beginning of September just yesterday. We’ve been back in London fully for a while now and it feels good to not have to pack a bag for a while. To cosy up with candles and blankets at home.

This recipe is September for me, so I missed the cut-off, but with the milder temperatures we have now I think this still works. It’s absolutely delicious and a good way to use up any courgettes (I got some in my vegetable box only yesterday). It’s also a great way to make something comforting with vegetables (something I find hard).

Sometimes when I create a recipe it’s because I use what I have to hand. Other times I dream something up in my head and try to execute it. And most often, it’s a combination of the two.

In this case I had an idea of a creamy orzo pasta with courgette. With lemon, because it’s the obvious pairing and flavour enhancer. But the mascarpone part of the recipe came to me because I had half a packet left in the fridge and I needed to use it up. And it’s the ingredient what made this dish so lovely.

For me, the whole point of orzo is to create something a bit risotto like, but with pasta. It has a different, silkier texture than rice and feels lighter somehow. But the creaminess is important. And mascarpone offers that in the nicest possible way. For me this bowl of courgette and orzo tastes of summer slowly becoming autumn, the trees changing colour, of tanned legs in trousers instead of shorts, of the clearer fresher air that september brings.

Courgette orzo pasta with lemon and mascarpone, serves 2

200 g orzo

1 small shallot, finely chopped

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1 – 1 1/2 medium courgette, cut in half and sliced

1/2 lemon, zest and a little juice

1/2 packet mascarpone

grated parmesan

salt and pepper

Cook the orzo al dente in a saucepan. In a non-stick frying pan, heat upp the butter on medium heat and fry the shallots until soft. Don’t let them brown. Remove from the pan. Add the olive oil to the pan and turn the temperature up to medium-high. Add the courgette half moons and fry until soft and a little brown. Take the pan off the heat and add the onions back in. Lower the temperature to medium and place the pan back on the heat. Add the mascarpone and lemon zest, salt and pepper and stir until creamy. Reserve some of the pasta water in a mug and drain the orzo through a sieve. Add the pasta to the courgette mixture and add a little of the pasta water. Stir in a handful of grated parmesan and adjust the seasoning if needed. Spoon the pasta into bowls and sprinkle with some more grated parmesan before serving.

Baked stuffed figs with mascarpone, walnuts and chocolate

To end that Italian inspired meal I have been going on about all week, we served Baked stuffed figs with mascarpone, walnuts and chocolate from that lovely book I have been going on about all week too – Bringing Italy Home by Ursula Ferrigno. I was more inspired by it than anything, so below is my adaptation with a few changes. It went perfectly together with the vin santo we bought at Harrod’s a while back, but almost any dessert would.

This is nevertheless a nice way to end a meal, with pimped up fruit. It is lighter than most creamy dessert despite it contains both mascarpone and chocolate and I served it with whipped cream.

Fyllda ugnsbakade fikon med mascarpone, valnötter och choklad, serves 4

Adapted after Ursula Ferrigno’s recipe.

8 fresh figs

75 g mascarpone

40 g walnuts, chopped

1 tbsp vin santo

100 g milk chocolate

1-2 tbsp single cream

Wash the figs and cut off parts of their bottoms so they can stand up. The make a cross almost all the way down to open up the figs. It is in this opening we put the stuffing.

Mix mascarpone with wine and walnuts. Stuff the figs. Bake for 10 minutes in 200C.

Melt the chocolate while the figs are baking, and mix with the cream. When the figs are done, place two on each plate and spoon chocolate on top. Serve with lightly whipped cream.