Les courgettes de Bernadette


Last Sunday I got an early morning phone call from my neighbor Bernadette. She asked if I could pop by her house before lunch, she didn’t say why. I was excited, I wondered if the tomatoes she had promised me were ready and ripe. Recently I baked her a box full of canelés, her favorite, and when I brought them over she mentioned that some of the glorious tomatoes growing in her garden had my name on them. On the other hand I thought it was a bit early in the summer for her tomatoes. What else could it be? A thought crept into my head, was it possible that Gertrud, our liver colored (I like to call her chocolate brown, much more appealing) German Pointer had broken into Bernadette’s garden and had a bit too much fun, bringing with her a Fox Terrier or two? I sincerely hoped not. I quickly threw on some clothes and headed for Bernadette’s. Like a good Médocain I brought a nice bottle of wine, to say sorry if it was needed, to say thank you if it was appropriate. I turned out that the tomatoes were still green, that there had been no dog mischief. When I arrived at Bernadette’s house I saw a stack of gigantic beautiful courgettes on her garden table and she insisted I take them all. “We have so many, and there are only two of us” she said. I promised to return soon with more canelés, “to go with the wine” she said as I walked away carrying as many courgettes as my arms could hold.


On the way to Bernadette’s I had been thinking of tomato recipes but on the way home there were only courgettes on my mind. She had suggested that I fill some of them with sausage meat and cheese, ‘c’est si bon les courgettes farçies, Mimi!‘. Luckily there was still time to pass by the butcher’s to get the necessary sausages. I guess I couldn’t completely forget about tomatoes so I found a way of including them. I baked the courgettes on a bed of homemade tomato sauce.

That was our lunch and everybody loved it. The roast chicken I had been preparing for lunch was simply promoted to dinner which meant we had lots of time to kill. And what better to do with an unexpectedly free afternoon in August, when the weather is playing along with our wishes, than go to the beach. And what a lovely beach we have.
Those enormous courgettes have had place of honor on my kitchen table for the last few days, some slowly disappeared into a ratatouille others into omelettes. One of the most satisfying dishes that I’ve made out of them in the last few days is a last-minute improvised pasta dish that I threw together when my wolflike family had just returned from the beach and could not wait very long to be nourished. I love to use mint in everything these days, its one of the key tastes of summer for me. We are having so much luck with our mint growing this year, the more we use the more it grows. I feel like I am sending the kids out three times a day to get more mint for my cooking, sometimes they even turn up in the kitchen with mint or thyme just in case.

In this house, being prepared means having herbs in your pocket.


Courgettes farçies (stuffed zucchini)
(serves 4-6)

Preheat oven 180°C/ 350 F

2 very large zucchini, or 4 medium-sized ones
8 good-quality sausages – approx 450 g/ 1 pound
½ bunch of parsley, chopped finely
1 onion, sliced finely
2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
¼ tsp épices Rabelais (alternatively all spice)
110 g/ ¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs
150 g/1 & 1/2 cup Emmental or parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp mustard
Salt & black pepper

For the sauce:
3 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 can plum tomatoes, crushed (you can use your hands or a potato/vegetable masher
2 tbsp red wine
Sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf and a dash of oregano
Coarse salt and black pepper

Make the sauce:
In a saucepan, heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and cook 3 garlic cloves (finely sliced). Add one can of crushed plum tomatoes, a few sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, red wine and a dash of oregano. Season with salt and black pepper. Cover with parchment paper and simmer on a low heat for one hour.
For the filling:
Trim zucchini and slice lengthwise. If they are very large (like mine in the photos), divide them into three to four logs. Scoop out the seeds, leaving approx. 1 cm zucchini flesh inside.
In another bowl, squeeze out the sausage meat. Mix sausage meat with spices, garlic, mustard, thyme, half the breadcrumbs, onion, and parsley. Season with coarse salt & black pepper. Stuff the zucchini with the mixture.
Pour the sauce in a baking dish, place stuffed zucchini on top and sprinkle with grated cheese and breadcrumbs.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes 180°C /350 F until meat is cooked and melted cheese is golden.


Zucchini pasta
(serves 4)

2 large zucchini, grated coarsely
2 garlic cloves, slice finely
3 tbsp crème fraîche
1 tbsp butter
500 g pasta of your choice
¼ tsp piment d’espellette (optional)
125 g pine nuts
Olive oil
A handful of chopped basil and mint leaves
Salt & pepper for seasoning
50 g /1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Put the pine nuts in a dry skillet and cook on a medium heat for 3 minutes until golden, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool and chop them coarsely.
Trim zucchini and grate coarsely (I use a food processor/ medium grater disc) – they look like short match sticks. Alternatively you can chop by hand.
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Reserve ½ cup cooking liquid.
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, add zucchini. Toss for a few minutes, then add garlic, piment d’espellette, crème fraîche, and cooking liquid, continue to stir for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 tbsp butter, season with salt and pepper, mix gently.
Add pasta to the zucchini pan. Add grated parmesan cheese, chopped mint and basil and chopped pine nuts. Toss everything together.
Just before serving, sprinkle with more parmesan cheese, chopped mint and basil. Serve immediately.


73 thoughts on “Les courgettes de Bernadette

    1. Being a ‘good’ neighbour is such an important part of our rural lives. We have very few neighbours, so it is comforting to know that there is always someone out there 🙂 Whether it’s for a friendly chat, comparing notes on local forest activities or my dogs being naughty in her garden, Bernadette is a ray of sunshine 🙂 Mimi x

  1. Ah yes! Courgette season! They are a staple of my garden. By fall I’m sick of them, yet every spring I plant them again. This year it’s the pattypan variety. Love them stuffed, baked into bread, but my favourite is breaded and fried in olive oil. I’ve never tried them with pasta, though. But I’m ever so grateful for new zucchini recipes, so that will be on the menu for next week! And yes, my mint is thriving this year, too. Never had luck with it in the past. Cheers to a wonderful summer! -Rebecca

    1. Hi Rebecca! Cougettes are all over now, and I am always grateful to add a few more recipes to my courgette theme! Oh how I love the pattypan variety – they look like pretty flying saucers. I love admiring them on my kitchen table. Happy summer! Mimi x

  2. Lovely,will try tomorrow!I was raving about the Zucchini Flan to my facial GAL today!Now i will pass this on too……..she is GREEK and understands the GOOD FOOD!Her name is MALA and hopefully she too will comment!

    1. My lovely La Contessa, I will try this on the weekend. Ive heard nothing but the most wonderful compliments of all your recipes…

  3. When they are young and nutty flavored, they are great as a salad in the same way as carrot salad. This baked style looks delicious too.

  4. Le hubs & I love courgettes farcies, specially when is my MIL who prepares them and we have the chance to enjoy them in a sunny breezy day in Provence but I wouldn´t mind to transport us to Médoc and try your recipe. 🙂

  5. And just to day I was wondering – what should I cook that is really in the season? You have always the answer Mimi 🙂 Thank you!

  6. I think I need a neighbour like Bernadette! Those are impressive courgettes – perfect for stuffing! Courgettes are so delicious with pasta, too – I like to add some oyster mushrooms or chanterelles if available.

  7. mimithorisson,
    Your writing is a delight to read.
    The photography is sumptuous.
    Your upcoming cookbook will be a treasure. Thank you for writing of your joyful and energetic family life in France.
    Best regards, Alice

  8. Bonjour ma chere Mimi,
    The produce in late summer is so wonderful and plentiful. It’s great to have the dilemma of a gut of zucchini or tomatoes. So glad now to have these two delicious recipes to keep aside for my late summer harvest. J’espere que vous avez beaucoup plus de jours chaud Mimi.
    Bisous xx anita

    1. Bonjour Anita, Late summer produce is perhaps the best! I can’t wait for the real juicy sweet tomatoes, and the chasselas grapes about to be golden ready any minute. We are having beautiful sunny and warm days – it’s bliss! Mimi x

  9. Perfect timing with these recipes Mimi…. 🙂 Yesterday I couldn’t resist the zucchinis in our market but had no idea what to cook with them… Now I’m all set… xv

  10. I have huge courgettes too and was wondering what to do with them. Thank you so much. Both recipes look fabulous. Thank you Mimi.

  11. I have huge courgettes given to me by the father of one of my friends. Definitely have to try the courgettes façies, fell in love with right away. Lately I have been cooking a very simple courgette pasta: In a bit of EVOO, cook courgette cubes and cherry tomato quarters until tender (season as you prefer). Mix in the boiled pasta, herbs you like (we have been using basil and mint) and Azores Island cheese (from Saint Jorge island). Adjust the seasoning and voilá!

  12. Bonjour Mimi, je decouvre votre blog depuis quelques jours et c’est 1 vrai plaisir ! je suis française et habite en Bourgogne du sud vers Beaune. Plein de vos belles recettes à faire, 1 bonheur ! Bel été entre farniente, beaux plats et bons vins

  13. Hi Mimi – I’ve just finished reading your enchanting post on my way home on the Manly ferry (Sydney). I always feel soooooo very inspired AND hungry after reading your posts. Thanks for sharing your flare with food and writing – Terase xxxx

  14. Courgette are a delight and versatile, soaking in all of the wonderful aromas and flavors surrounding them! And mint has become a new favorite for me too. Your post was lovely as always!

  15. Ahh…a new post-delightful.
    An inauspicious apperance, a humble piece of garden freshness…part of the natural and earthy summer cooking palette – such is the life of Courgette

  16. Ciao Mimi…buonissime ricette e bellissimo articolo..ho appena comprato una casa in campagna..gli amici ci hanno preso per pazzi..con la mia famiglia pensiamo di lasciare la città e vivere lì…speriamo che il sogno si avveri…prova le zucchine in agrodolce…con cipolla zucchero e aceto…strepitose e appetitose…un bacio dalla Sicilia….

  17. Your recipes are so lovely. Fresh mint is the very herb you’d normally find in a Greek (or Mediterranean) summer dish. But If you still haven’t tasted courgette flowers, you must look for some baby zucchini and try the fritters. It’s exactly the kind of delicacy one might as well find in your blog.

  18. An ideal summer morning, it would seem. I love zucchini and I am always looking for new ways to use them, so both of these recipes are definitely going in my box.

  19. I came home yesterday to a counter with a basket of tomatoes from a friend’s garden. I grow my own but the deer discovered a way get under the net and had a feast one weekend I was away. My harvests have been very small.

    So sweet of your neighbor to surprise you with the courgettes–you made delicious use of them! 🙂

  20. I just discovered this blog, compliments it’s beautiful! I live in Rome and I’ve often think to move to the countryside but I’m not sure. This blog and the pictures of your house make me want to do it (sorry for my horrible english

  21. Oh I cooked this last night for my family and it went down very well, so tasty and creamy. We finished the sauce off for lunch today and it seemed even better. Well done Mimi, another winner x

  22. Hi Mimi, I just made your Zucchini Pasta (for myself) and I loved it. I might feature your recipe on my tiny little blog, is that ok? I will provide a reference, of course. Thank you for all your lovely recipes, I will try more for sure.


  23. Hello Mimi,

    My husband made the stuffed zucchini last night for our evening meal. It was wonderful! Thank you for sharing your recipes, and your beautiful life! I am very much looking forward to your cookbook next year!

    All the best, Margot

  24. I tried both of these recipes in the last couple of weeks and they were AMAZING! Thank you for the time you take to share these fabulous recipes and beautiful pictures!!

  25. I am so grateful for this Happy New Year 2014 that you have posted these delicious recipes on your website. I cannot wait for a gourmet book authored by you.

    Would you believe? Dehydrated onions and parsley (rare oddity of not having any fresh around), finely julienned zucchini sautéed with faux meat, and this recipe makes a wonderful stuffing for ravioli? I used Dijon mustard for a little va va flair française.

    So simple, great ingredient pairings, and anyone could make this on the moon without compromising the delicious taste.

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