As summer ends and autumn approaches, courgettes really come into their own. Whether green or yellow, these members of the squash family have a mild flavour, but with an array of health benefits, give them a starring role while they are so fresh and juicy. Chock full of manganese and vitamin C. courgettes don’t just offer a great combination of conventional antioxidant nutrients, they also contain an unusual amount of other antioxidant nutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are especially helpful in protecting eye health, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Having the nutrients to protect against cardiovascular and digestive inflammation makes courgettes potentially useful in keeping blood vessels strong and soothing ulcers, but they also guard against type 2 diabetes by maintaining healthy blood sugar regulation with their profile of B-complex vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, plus, of course, beneficial polysaccharide fibres like pectin. Lovely sautéed simply with garlic, julienned in salads, or spiralised to create spaghetti-like noodles, try them in this light yet rich stew. Choose yellow and green to bring a splash of summery colour to your dish!
Chicken and Courgette Stew
8 chicken thighs, bones removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, peeled, sliced
300ml white wine
2 courgettes, chopped
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
2 tins of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or equivalent amount of cooked beans)
fresh or dried herbs of choice (I love oregano. but thyme or rosemary also work well)
chopped flatleaf parsley, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Season the chicken thighs, to taste. Heat a little oil in an ovenproof pan over a medium heat and fry the chicken thighs, turning frequently, for 4-5 minutes, or until pale golden-brown all over. Remove from from the pan, add the onions and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Pour in the wine, bring to the boil, and cook for a couple of minutes, until the volume of the liquid has reduced slightly. Add the courgettes and tomatoes, plus the herbs, returning the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir in the beans and season to taste. Return the cooked chicken thighs to the pan, skin-side up and transfer to the oven to bake for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (the juices run clear when the thickest part is pierced to the bone with a skewer) Serve sprinkled with the chopped flatleaf parsley, hunks of fresh bread and a green salad.
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