The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

courgette linguine

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This week the UK government further eased restrictions on the lockdown in England that has been in place for almost three months (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are subject to slightly different, and generally more cautious, restrictions).

Curious to see how the populace would respond, I must confess to a feeling of deep depression at the sight of long queues of cars at fast food drive-throughs and of people lining up outside reopened shopping centre stores.

The background hum of traffic has also returned, after weeks of calmness which have been gently and charmingly punctuated by birdsong.

Thanks to our health and social care services, and thanks to the introduction (albeit far too late), of social distancing and other restrictions, the UK’s Covid-19 death rate has fallen considerably in recent weeks.

This has been used by the British government to justify the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Of course, the virus has not disappeared, nor has it evolved and individually we are still just as much at risk from it as we were at the start of the pandemic.

What has changed is that the government has now prioritised the resurrection of the economy over the need to protect our collective health.

Most of us have spent much of the past three months with severe restrictions on our activities. This has provided a unique opportunity to reflect on the way we live our lives
Of course, lockdown experiences will have varied hugely. For a family with small children living in an inner-city high-rise apartment block, lockdown would have been a huge challenge compared to life for those with large houses and gardens.

But for a brief period, we showed ourselves how it is possible to live more frugally, less acquisitively, to conduct our lives at a less breakneck speed and, yes, to have time to think about what really matters in our lives and in the world around us.

We learned that it was possible to survive happily without commuting or driving, (unless you are the Prime Minister’s special adviser).

Many of us have learned to value the smaller local shops and businesses that have done so much to support and provide for their communities.

Having been told we could leave our homes once a day for exercise, lots of us did just that, enthusiastically embracing that daily ration of exercise – jogging, cycling, running. This in turn gave us an opportunity to explore properly the area in which we live.

Many of us have shown that it is possible to do our jobs from home, without commuting.

For some, slowing down has also had a positive impact on our mental health and stress levels.

Now, as the UK government, like others around the world is easing lockdown restrictions we are being urged to “support the economy” by resuming our previous levels of consumption, and to help return to “business as usual”.

But who does that “business as usual” benefit? The very people who put us here in the first place – the polluters, the agribusinesses, agrochemical corporations, petrochemical companies, processed food manufacturers – organisations whose entire business ethic has depended upon exploitation of people and planet. This is what created the conditions in which the pandemic emerged and thrived.

If we do not want business as usual, it is up to us. Too many of our politicians are in the pockets of big business.

We are going to have to be firm about preserving the positive changes we have made to our lives during lockdown, and to build upon the lessons lockdown has taught us by making further changes – in the way we eat, consume, travel and work. These, cumulatively, will help shift us all towards the wider permanent changes that are needed if we are to live fulfilled lives that are in better balance with the world around us.

I am a great lover of Italian cuisine, which at its best keeps things simple, relying on good quality ingredients.

This dish, using homegrown golden zucchini courgettes is an attempt to recreate a delicious lunchtime pasta dish I had in an authentic Italian restaurant in Swansea, south Wales, many years ago.

courgette linguine


750 g organic courgettes, cut into batons the size of your thumb
400 g organic linguini (use egg-free pasta for vegan version)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp herbs de Provence
pinch chilli flakes
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

to serve (optional)

extra virgin olive oil
a few torn basil leaves
vegetarian or vegan Parmesan style cheese, grated


1. Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente.

2. While the linguini is cooking, pour the olive oil into a large pan and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the courgette batons and the garlic. Cook together, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Lower the heat and add the herbs de Provence and the chilli flakes. Continue to cook for about ten minutes or until the courgette is soft and beginning to colour, by which time your pasta should be about ready.

3. Drain the pasta and tip into the courgette pan. Stir everything together and place onto plates or into bowls. Drizzle with a little olive oil, scatter with basil leaves and add a little grated cheese, if using.

Categories: dairy free, vegan, vegetarian


11 replies

  1. Peaceful Saturday afternoon in semi-rural Australia some 100 kms south of Sydney. In a country first hit hard, responding early and very hard. Now supposedly re-opening after just 102 deaths in total across the land and two across the country un IC care. What right do I have to complain !! Yes we became ‘Fortress Australia’ with police, including mounted police, on the streets, immediate lockdowns, huge fines, tests, tests and more tests . . . and then we look at the rest of the world . . . at the US. Brazil, India . . . and the UK with 42K people dead and over 400 in intensive care and there is nought to say. I feel bad that your post should have flown unto my box just when I was off . . . Time and PLACE !!! As for you in many ways . . . since I have worked from home for some two decades . . . this has been such a delightfully peaceful time of few interruptions, some irregularities as far as on line grocery shopping went . . . and, if the lack of toilet paper is the biggest of your ills, be damn glad to be alive ! I have yet to wear a mask . . . oh, they are ready ! All I can do is pray for patience and common sense and people understanding what is really important . . . yes, I DO appreciate the economic concerns . . . love both zucchini and pasta . . . lovely recipe . . . best . . .

    • Thank you Eha. Both Australia and New Zealand made the right calls in dealing with the pandemic. In contrast, the UK government – a collection of individuals who were selected on the basis of their devotion to the Brexit cause rather than Because of their general ability – has got wrong pretty much every key decision over its handling Covid-19, which is why the UK now has such a catastrophic death rate. Steve x

  2. My son’s brother in law is an entertainer, Steve. He had national and overseas bookings organised for the year, before the pandemic. He’s had to live off his meagre savings. If we stay home post pandemic who will he entertain? My partner, the primary school teacher had to retire two years before he(we) were planning it. Not everyone can work from home. I’m all for lowering the population. People are indiscriminately breeding as if there’s a tomorrow and enough food and water for all. I’m all for lowering the carbon footprint and putting aeroplanes to bed. I’d be okay if we went backwards and used horse and carriage to get around. Those of us who could afford it.
    If we were hermits, Steve, we’d put away our electronic gadgets and live in caves. We’ve only been hanging on because we knew that there was an end in sight. I’ll never forget the crazies stripping the supermarket shelves. I’ll never forget hordes of protesters looting, burning, vandalising the past, putting themselves and us in danger. What makes us think we are civilised.

    • Mary – the fact that people like you are there hopefully makes us all more civilized.! None.of us know quite where to go . . . one prays we find some at the head of the queues to show is of ways which will work. I can assure you I was in no way flippant with my words . . . just very gratified of where I am. Down Under – those normally enriching us with their cultural talents have been hit the most also . . .

    • Hi Mary. I can understand how your brother in law must be struggling as a result of the lockdown restrictions. I realise that home working is not an option for everyone, although I know that some musicians and other artists have been able to stream entertainment on line, in some cases with the option for viewers to make a donation. I am sorry to learn that your partner has had to retire earlier than planned, although again I know teachers here in the UK who are currently providing lessons on-line. Far from ideal, I accept, but at least they have been able to work.
      I am not advocating us all becoming hermits, but I am saying things need to change. In some cases there are obvious changes we can make to benefit ourselves and our environment. In others, I accept changes are not so easy or obvious. However, if we want to avoid further pandemics, a return to “business as usual” is simply not an option. Steve x

  3. What a beautiful post! And so true. May we live more simply, and truly, for having gone through this pandemic. It is totally up to us. Whether we use it to shape our own change towards a more authentic life or go back to ‘how things were’.

  4. We’ve been living simply for a long time. The lockdown didn’t affect us too much because I had a well-stocked pantry and plenty of toilet paper. My heart aches for the arts industry and others who lost their livelihoods. The recipe has perfect timing. I bought courgettes today.

    • Thank you Peggy. I think for many of us the lockdown has shown that there is great depth and richness to be discovered from living more simply. Steve x

  5. Another amazing recipe. I actually bought zucchini yesterday at a limited access farmers market. I personally have enjoyed working from home and having to re learn certain kitchen skills simply because I didn’t have access to all the groceries I usually do. I agree that a return to what we called normal is not an option if we want to learn from this pandemic and avoid a future ones. I hope you are well.

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