I bought this marrow from outside a florist, locally grown in someones garden or allotment. I love buying vegetables like that, almost unofficially, someone using their initiative, sharing their excess crop and making some pennies on the side. It makes it all the more special, especially if it’s the first marrow of the year. Marrows to me are the most exciting of all vegetables, as they hold so much meaning, so many delicious summer memories.
Stuffed marrow is such a quintessential late summer dish. They remind me of my Granny, who cooked them for us every year, stuffing them with rice, onion and peas in a tomato sauce, with a cheese topping. The marrows came from neighbours in the village, whose dog used to come to the gate for a stroke every time I passed on my way to the shop (always to stock up on sweets). I remember seeing the marrows growing in their garden, being so surprised by their size, such huge and splendiferous vegetables, so close to the ground.
They also remind me of my parents’ kitchen at home when I was a child, of my Mum or Dad’s cooking, of summer evenings and happy mealtimes. Of being a bit apprehensive of this huge vegetable (would it be stringy?), but always loving it, and my parents enjoying it too, enjoying the whole process. It’s such a lovely dish to make, the way you serve it as a dish in itself, the stuffing, the cooking, the gobbling up, it’s all so much fun, and so satisfying.
In my recipe, the stuffing is kasha (roasted buckwheat groats), onion and greek olives, and the crust my nigella seed cashew cheese. The combination is so good; the clean freshness of the marrow, the salty sourness of the kalamata olives coming through beautifully, with the added depth of flavour of the nigella seeds and chives in the cheese. The stuffing compliments the marrow, and you don’t even need a sauce, it’s such a juicy, fresh dish. Though if I were to make it into a larger meal, I’d add a plain white sauce, with steamed carrots and freshly podded peas on the side.
I could eat stuffed marrow every day. But it’s nice that it’s seasonal, it makes it special. Every year they arrive, marking their place in summer. And this is my favourite way to eat them.
- 1 medium marrow
- 2 cups of kasha
- 5 cups of water
- 1/2 large onion
- 1 bay leaf
- Nigella seed cashew cheese or super cheesy cashew cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup of olives, (I use a mixture of strong and mild like kalamata and hojiblanca)
Preheat the oven to 200 C
Chop marrow in half length-ways and put on a baking try in a hot oven. Bake for 20 mins or so, covering with tinfoil if starting to brown.
Cook kasha, 1 cup of groats to 2 1/2 water. Bring the water to the boil, add kasha and stir , simmer for 5 mins or so, until water is absorbed. Kasha is very good the next day, when cooled the grains are fluffy and easily broken up by hand, so it is a good food to cook in advance and keep in the fridge; I recommend making more than you need for this purpose.
Saute onions with bay leaf on low heat with lid on for 15 mins, stirring occasionally, until sweet. Chop or tear olives into kasha and mix in the softened onion. Drain off the marrow juice (save for another dish, or add to kasha if can take more water). Spoon the mix onto the marrows, pressing it down. Cover with generous slices of cashew cheese. Grill on a high heat for seven minutes or so, or until browning and starting to crisp.
The stuffing mix and cheese works well stuffing other vegetables; try courgettes or squashes, or whatever you fancy. But do track down that marrow and give it a go, you'll be so glad you did!
Kasha (roast buckwheat) varies a bit I find in the amount of water it needs, so keep an eye on it, maybe start off with a 2:1 water to kasha ratio and add a bit more. If you stir it and find it has gone a bit mushy, let it cool a bit and then crumble it by hand and it should be fluffy.