If you’re planning on eating more healthily this year, you should be aiming to include a whole rainbow full of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet.
We’re lucky to enjoy a bounty of beautiful local produce at this time of year, and Malta’s colourful street vendors and greengrocers will make you thankful that you have a great choice of unpackaged fruit and veg to choose from, pulled straight out of the Mediterranean soil and into your canvas shopping bags!
One of Malta’s traditional meals comes in the form of stuffed marrows, or Qarabagħli Mimli– delicious oven baked hollowed out marrows filled with mincemeat, scooped out vegetable pulp and herbs. This absolute classic is hard to pass up on, but if you’re feeling adventurous, or only have a few qarabagħli left, or qara twil– the longer variety and cooler cousin of the courgette- these ideas will be sure to give you some inspiration on how to make use of this versatile vegetable.
1. All Wrapped Up
Marrows are a common side dish in Maltese cooking that go perfectly alongside roast potatoes to compliment a main meat dish. Mix it up by adding strips of bell peppers, onion slices and thyme to the roasting dish with a glug of olive oil next time you crank up the oven, and reserve your leftover roasted veggies to stuff into burrito wraps or pita bread for your packed lunch the next day.
2. Fresh and Simple
If you’re following a low-carb diet, you can ‘spiralize’ your long marrows into vegetable twirls to replace the pasta to be topped with a chunky tomato sauce. Or why not try out gluten free spaghetti for a change, with garlic, olive oil and grated qarabagħli– a delicious pasta dish that takes under half an hour to make! Add chilli flakes for a little extra kick.
3. Ratatouille Roll-ups
Ratatouille is a coarse vegetable stew hailing from Provence in France, made with an abundance of colourful vegetables softened in a saucepan. Try making these gorgeous miniature tarts at home with either pre-rolled or homemade pastry. They can be kept in the fridge for up to three days and are perfect for grabbing a quick and filling lunch on the go. Top with Maltese peppered ġbejna to add a delicious tang.
4. Pizza Party
Sometimes the simplest pizzas are the best. Why do you think the Margherita is so popular? If you’re looking for tasty new topping ideas, look no further. Much like the Gozitan pizza, topped with slices of potato, marrows can be used instead, working beautifully with a homemade, slightly burnt base. The only thing you can want for is a drizzle of chili and garlic oil. Delicious!
5. Wheat-free Lasagne
In this dish, the lasagna sheets are replaced with flat shavings of marrows, a technique achievable with a simple cheese slicer. You can choose to stick to the classic recipe or try out a Bolognese sauce made with soya protein instead of mincemeat, for a vegetarian version. This particular lasagna boasts the addition of ricotta and spinach, so the variables are endless!
6. Chic Quiche
Making a quiche is a fantastic way to use up the vegetables in your fridge, making use of all the half portions you have left. Try making yours crustless, using a baking sheet, to emit some carbs and fat, and add in as many delicious veggies you can find along with your beaten eggs. Grated marrow, tomato, mushroom, cheddar cheese and mixed herbs is a great combination, full of protein, and so easy to make!
7. Midweek Penne
This gorgeous pasta dish looks and tastes impeccably restaurant-worthy but is simple enough for just about any home cook to make! Whilst you boil salted water to prepare for your penne, chop 3 cloves of garlic, slice 2 marrows into slithers, chop 5 rashers of bacon and grate a handful of cheese. To make the sauce, first fry your garlic, marrow ribbons and bacon in a frying pan before reducing the heat and adding cream and grated cheese and stir to form your delicious pasta sauce.
8. Savoury Fritters
These marrow and sweetcorn fritters are brilliant as a starter for a plant-based meal. Similar to an onion bhaji, they can be prepared in advance and either oven baked or shallow fried. Firstly you’ll need to make a small batch of mashed potatoes to hold the patties together, before combining with grated marrows and sweetcorn in a mixing bowl. Add garlic salt, pepper and garam masala powder to add flavour to these veggie favourites before cooking and serve before a meal, or inside a wrap with salad, hummus and yoghurt dressing- falafel style!
9. Cruelty Free Curry
Marrows are the perfect vegetable for filling out a homemade curry. You can feed a table full of hungry friends and impress them with your exotic cooking skills by frying two chopped onions, 3 chopped marrows and 4 cloves of chopped garlic in vegetable oil, before adding in 4 heaped tablespoons of curry powder to the pan to coat them in a fragrant oily spice mix and bring out the flavour. Stir fry until the marrows soften slightly, then add one tin of drained chickpeas and a tin of chopped tomatoes and leave to simmer and reduce for half an hour on a low heat, whilst your Basmati rice cooks.
10. Slimline Soup
Most of us have heard of the famous “Cabbage Soup Diet” which promises to shred inches off your waistline once you replace one meal a day with a steaming bowl of boiled cabbage over a short period of time. It really does work, and you can make soup out of just about any vegetable you fancy! Marrows are very low in calories and high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Why not add broccoli florets along with your chopped marrows to the boil? Broccoli also contains numerous vitamins and is a great source of folic acid for strength!
These healthy vegetable sticks are perfect for snacking in front of a your favourite TV show! Cut your longer marrows into ‘chip’ like shapes and blot on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with garlic powder and finely grated parmesan before baking in the oven on a lightly oiled baking tray. Roast for about 10 minutes before transferring to a plate. These parmesan dippers go great with Mexican style dips such as spicy salsa and sour cream and chive. Enjoy!