Every one has been on the receiving end of this, I am sure. You have a friend (and/or you do it yourself) who has a vegetable garden. At some point as summer marches on they say ‘I have a marrow. Would you like it?’ (Read: can you do anything with it, because I am flummoxed.) Go ahead and answer ‘yes’. Trust me. You will be very delighted you did.
A Marrow by any other name
A marrow is essentially a courgette (or zucchini for my US and Italian readers) that has run amok. It obviously took to hiding under a dense pack of leaves and in the collecting of the normal sized veg, it was missed. Though honestly how one misses a huge vegetable, is beyond me. (Still, been there, done that, so go figure.)
Once it reaches marrow stage (bigger than what you are used to seeing in shops), really, to all intensive purposes it is a squash, or a pumpkin, just long instead of round. If you think of it in this vein and look for recipes for squashes and pumpkin, then substitute your marrow instead, you will be pleasantly surprised how many more recipes are at your fingertips for this overgrown thing. (Side note: marrows have a much subtler flavour than squash or pumpkin, so be ready to up the seasonings a little.)
We were recently given just such a marrow. To say it was large was an understatement. It could have fit 10 courgettes into it! Very obviously the neighbour was desperate to get rid of it. She was giving me some tomatoes and she asked if I had use of a slightly large courgette. Being the neighbourly type, I of course said yes. She returned with an apology in her eye and what looked like a long skinny green and yellow baby in her arms. I sighed inwardly. Like everyone else, I quake at the sight of an overgrown veg.
Waste not, Want not
I put it on a disused radiator in our hall, a nice dark and cool place, where Pumpjack kept mistaking it for a sleeping cat in the dim light. It sat there for a week. Or more. Until I noticed it was starting to shrivel. Something must be done. I hate waste.
After a relaxing morning amongst the ducks, I felt renewed and ready to take on the world. And a giant marrow. So I went into the kitchen, and … started washing the dishes and cleaning down the surfaces. I was not feeling inspired.
A Seed of an Idea
It was nearing lunchtime and so I took the easy route. Soup. I would make soup. A big, big pot of soup. I started cutting up the marrow, and found seeds inside. Not little seeds, but big pumpkin size seeds. Suddenly inspiration came pouring in.
The seeds were scooped out, washed and set out to dry on a paper towel. Once dried out a bit (as in no longer wet), I would toss them in some oil and salt and roast in the oven. Roasted pumpkin seeds are an absolute favourite of mine, and given the size of these, I figure they will taste very similar.
Prepping for Dinner
As the marrow was very thick skinned, like a squash. I cut away the skin, piling it up to the side. I started cubing the marrow in preparation for the soup. When I got to the neck, or the bit without the seeds, I found myself cutting discs of marrow.
Hmmmm, we were going to be barbecuing. I wonder what they would taste like grilled. I sliced about 8 slices, ¼ inch/ 1 cm thick, put them in a bowl with some olive oil, lots of honey, a little red wine vinegar and powdered ginger. Covered with plastic they went into the fridge to marinate and we’ll see what they are like after barbecuing.
And finally, Lunch
The rest of the marrow cubed, it was time to make the soup. A little oil in a large stock pot, a chopped onion sautéed until golden and the marrow was then added. A sprinkle of pepper, salt then some herbs de Provence. (I had run out of thyme and was too lazy to go to the garden for fresh. Note to self, collect thyme from the garden for drying.)
Finally topped it all off with some stock. I seriously recommend Vecon. It comes in a paste form. The jar looks rather like vegamite. Or is that marmite? Salt is not its first ingredient and I use it
for whatever stock is required, from beef to veggie. It works in everything.
Anyway, I digress. The soup simmered for 15 minutes, whilst I looked on at the mound of marrow skins. It seemed such a waste to simply put so much in the compost. A quick internet search found an Indian dish where you cut up the skin into strips, boil, and then fry with cumin seeds. Now that sounded delicious and a must try.
Marrow skin strips were duly sliced, boiled and drained to be sautéed up in a pan on the BBQ. They looked a bit like a coleslaw, so there was a curiosity to see if they tasted more veggie like or more salad like.
Soup simmered, a quick whiz in the mixer and I was ready for a well deserved sit down and lunch.
The recipes that inspired me:
Pumpkin seeds: https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-roast-pumpkin-seeds/
BBQ marrow slices: https://www.cowboycharcoal.com/grilling-bbq-recipes/sides/sweet-and-sour-grilled-pumpkin
Indian dal and fried marrow skin: https://chilliandmint.com/2013/09/07/marrow-dal-and-fried-marrow-skin-khosha-bhaja/
About those grilled marrow discs and sautéed skins on the BBQ…?
The grilled marrow was really tasty. It definitely needed the marinating and I would make certain the honey outweighs the vinegar, and add more salt or spice. The charring from the grill also added a nice smokey flavour.
The sautéed skins were a surprise. A bit more like seaweed than salad or veg in texture and flavour. I would recommend making sure they are cut as thin as possible and sauté a while to give them a good crunch.
Gardening Gifts – Other than Marrows
These Gardening Gifts can be found in our Shop. Click on an above image to see more detail.