Nigel Slater's midweek dinner: courgettes with bacon gremolata

The recipe

Cut six rashers of bacon into thick snippets, then fry them in a shallow pan, with a little butter if necessary, until they start to crisp lightly; then add the needles from a sprig of rosemary, very finely chopped, and a clove of crushed garlic. Stir for a minute or two then add a couple of good handfuls of soft, fresh breadcrumbs. Add more butter if the crumbs prove thirsty. Let these cook until golden, turning them regularly, then toss in some chopped parsley if you have it, and the zest of a small lemon, finely grated. Season generously. When all is crisp and golden, remove from the pan and wipe it with kitchen paper. Slice four medium to large courgettes thickly, then cook them in a little oil and butter. When they are soft and translucent, scatter over the breadcrumbs, heat gently and serve.

The trick

Keep an eye on the breadcrumbs – they will burn in seconds. Different breads soak up more or less butter, so keep some handy to add as necessary. As soon as the crumbs start to colour, tip them out into a dish. Don't fry the courgettes without thoroughly wiping the pan clean and adding fresh oil or butter.

The twist

I used brioche for the crumbs, because it needed using, but anything brown or white will do. Introduce basil in with the courgettes or the crumbs. I went for a mere passing breeze, but add more garlic if you like. Sliced mushrooms can replace the bacon if you fancy. The bacon gremolata would be good on sautéed tomatoes, too.

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