Lauki, the humble vegetable of India, is lifted to new heights in this recipe. Melon slices are marinated in garlic and oil for half an hour, then pan fried until tender and golden brown. They are then drizzled with a tomato sauce and chilli oil, and topped with creamy feta. Delicious!
The genesis of this recipe is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. He has a similar dish that uses marrow. When a recipe specifies marrow as an ingredient, confusion ensues. Unlike the UK, Australia does not have a generic marrow, or indeed a variety of marrows. The closest we get to marrow is large zucchinis, yet these are difficult to purchase as it is baby zucchinis that are all the rage now and shops stock only these.
India, however, has many melons, close enough, and they are available in Indian and Asian shops. For this recipe I used Long Melon (Lauki). It worked really well. A friend says that this is too, too much – lifting the humble Lauki to new heights! It does work very well. And with only a few soft seeds in the centre, there was no need to remove them before cooking.
This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.
It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Browse our Lauki recipes and our Zucchini dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.
We have grown Lauki in our garden – a vigorous grower, with tons of beautiful flowers.
Lauki Melon with Tomato and Feta
1 large lauki or other melon/marrow, skin on, cut widthways into 1 – 1.5cm slices
5 garlic cloves
105ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 tspn fennel seeds
400g chopped tomatoes (tinned are fine)
0.5 tspn caster sugar
50g feta, crumbled or cubed
10g basil leaves, roughly shredded
2 tspn chilli oil, or to taste
sea salt and black pepper
If your melon has many tough seeds and fibre in the middle, place each disc of melon flat on a chopping board and use a small serrated knife to cut out and discard the central seeds and fibre. If using a marrow with few and soft seeds and no fibre, this step can be omitted.
Place the discs in a large mixing bowl and add 85ml tablespoon of oil, sea salt, some black pepper and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Mix well and set aside for 30 mins.
For the tomato sauce: slice the remaining garlic and place into a small frying pan with the fennel seeds and 2 tspns of the oil. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat. Before the garlic browns, add the tomatoes along with the sugar, some sea salt and some black pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for about 7 minutes until thick. Transfer to a small food processor bowl or blender and blitz until silky smooth.
Cook the marinated marrow slices: Put a large frying pan on medium-high heat and add the remaining tspn of olive oil. Cover and fry the marrow in batches for about 8 minutes or so, turning once, until golden brown and tender. While still warm, spread the slices in a single layer on a serving dish, pour over the tomato sauce and leave to cool Just before serving, sprinkle over the feta, followed by the basil and a drizzle of chilli oil.
recipe notes and alternatives
I also love this dish eaten warm. Our feta cheese is Middle Eastern and creamy, not crumbly, so we cut into cubes.
The tomato sauce is wonderful. Make this at any time to drizzle over and into any dish. If you want more heat, add chopped red chilli to taste to the sauce with the tomatoes.