Nigel Slater’s courgettes with feta and lemon

The recipe
Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Place 6 large courgettes on a chopping board and slice each one at half-centimetre intervals, cutting almost through to the board. Put the courgettes in a roasting tin, holding them together as you lift, and baste them with 5 tbsp of olive oil.

Bake the courgettes for 40 minutes or until they are tender, basting halfway through cooking with roasting juices in the tin. Crumble 200g of feta into a mixing bowl. Tear or shred 8 large basil leaves. Add them together with a handful of parsley leaves and season with black pepper, but no salt. Finely grate the zest of a small lemon into the cheese. Set the lemon aside.

Remove the courgettes from the oven, transfer to a serving dish or plates, then slice the zested lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the roasting tin. Pour the roasting juices into the feta and parsley then spoon over the courgettes and serve. Enough for 2, with bread for mopping up the juices.

The trick
The slicing of the courgettes allows the heat to penetrate and the basting juices to trickle right through. Slice cautiously, making sure not to cut right through to the board. Though sliced, the courgettes should remain intact. Some find it easiest to place a chopstick either side of the courgette as you slice down, the wood preventing the knife cutting all the way through.

The twist
You can use any crumbly cheese for this, changing the herbs as you think fit. Oregano with halloumi for instance, or goat’s cheese and rosemary. If going for the former, grill the halloumi first, singeing its edges and tossing with a little crumbled chilli. Those round “rondelle” courgettes work very neatly here, too.