Courgette or Zucchini Slippers with Meat Sauce and Cheddar

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This is a real 1980s dish – though you still find it in French bistros – that deserves revisiting. The ‘slippers’ are made from carving a channel in a small halved courgette or zucchini so you can stuff it. It can be served hot or cold as a main course or a starter (halve the portion for an appetiser). We’ve added an idea to turn it into a vegetarian or vegan dish too.

Serves 4

For the Meat Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
200g minced beef or pork
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
3 tablespoons tomato purée or passata
100ml white wine
8 basil leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Courgette/Zucchini Slippers
8 small to medium courgettes or zucchinis
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g grated cheddar (or any grated cheese – see note below)
Rocket leaves to garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 160C Fan – 180C – 350F – Gas 4.

2. Make the meat sauce. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the minced beef or pork and fry until golden. Add the garlic and fry for one minute. Add the tomato purée or passata and fry for 2 minutes. Add the white wine and basil. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper, stir and cook for 20-25 minutes adding a spoon or two of cold water or wine if it begins to stick. Stir often.

3. While the meat sauce is cooking, trim the ends of the courgettes or zucchinis and lightly peel any damaged parts from the skin. Cut cleanly in half. Use a small sharp knife to carve out a channel in each half so you can fit the meat sauce. Simmer the zucchini or courgette halves in boiling water for 8 minutes. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper and leave to cool slightly.

4. Place the courgette/zucchini shells in an oiled tight-fitting dish oven-proof dish with the scooped-side facing you and spoon in the meat sauce. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle over the cheddar cheese, return the dish to the oven and bake for another ten minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the courgettes are firm but easy to pierce with a sharp knife. Remove to a serving dish, garnish with the rocket leaves and serve 2 halves to each person.

– Use ready-made bolognese sauce or beef chilli instead of the meat sauce above. When you are making either make extra and freeze so you can make this recipe easily any day you are stuck for an idea for dinner. (You can’t freeze the courgette/zucchini.)
– Use any cheese that melts easily including those odds and ends you keep in the fridge at the end of the pack: Tallegio, Parmesan, Cheddar, cream cheese, drained cottage cheese that you have mixed with any firm grated cheese, Grana Padano, Gruyere or experiment by mixing a few cheeses.
– This is a good way to get kids to eat vegetables.

Instead of meat sauce fill the ‘slippers’ with our Ratatouille recipe instead. For a vegan version use vegan cheese or skip it altogether.


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