All it takes to get a healthy courgette plant is a good patch of healthy soil, room to grow and some sunshine and water. You’ll also need luck with slugs while they’re establishing themselves, but once they’re a size that’s imposing to the slimy attackers they’ll be pumping out succulent courgettes all summer.
Which can also be a burden… just what do you do with the glut when you’re bored of your favourite courgette recipe?
This year I foolishly grew too many plants – the classic ‘black beauty’ (it’s green), the unimaginatively named ‘yellow zucchini’, posh round variety ‘De Nice’ and space-ship shaped ‘yellow scallop’ – the first three of which are in full flow with the scallops just swinging into action now. Barely a meal has been served without some courgette element to it, and the former household favourite ‘courghetti spaghetti’ (recipe below) has now been relegated to ‘never again’ status.
So what to do with this cucurbit accumulation? Time to summon twitter for inspiration. (And, surprisingly, no one suggested courgette wine).
What are your favourite recipes for surplus courgettes?
Quick as a flash @SloeGandT replied “Courgette & Parmesan soup always a winner & uses up (gets rid of!) loads. Courgettes instead of carrot in cake also good.” And she wan’t the only courgette cake fan with @Lorraines_Veg and @spitaldyke also suggesting this as a glut busting solution. @spitaldyke also weighed in with an interesting international suggestion: “a Latvian friend slices courgette adds sliced tomato and cheese on top then sizzles with a lid on in a hot pan… yum…”. Sounds a bit like a pizza to me. Talking of which, @Kester_architec recommended using courgettes with rosemary as a healthy pizza topping.
A few professional foodies suggested ways out of courgette overload – top chef Martin Blunos (@martinblunos1) reckons bhajis are the answer, while River Cottage’s jam and preserve expert Pam Corbin* (@thepamthejam) tweeted a whole recipe in under 140 characters: “Courgette and Ginger Jam: I kg grated courgettes, 100g root ginger grated, 100ml lemon juice, 1kg Jam sugar – 6 min boil.” Rachel de Thample (@dethample), author of ‘Less Meat, More Veg’ knows plenty of veg cooking secrets and offered up this tasty sounding tit-bit: “long, thin slices fried in coconut oil w/turmeric, chilli, garlic”.
@chantscottage must be familiar with courgette mountains because she suggested two recipes. First up she sensibly offers this: “I just cook them down with garlic, slowly until they are sludge, and eat with rigatoni and parmesan. Simple and ace.” before going a bit courgette crazy with this assembly “Oh yeah and also weird but winning is sliced n fried in pancakes with cottage cheese and chilli or lime pickle. TRUST ME.”
@katsley went one further and provided us with three ideas – courgette, feta and dill tart; courgette chutney; and “lasagne with the pasta substituted for ribbons of courgette.” @SnowflakeSusie will also be dipping various savouries into courgette chutney, judging by her response “our pile was ridiculous this wknd so hubby a currently cooking up courgette chutney and likely to frittata the rest :-)”.
Fritters were the choice of @GwenfarsGarden and @beccasbonbons, with the latter also recommending courgette curd as “surprisingly good”. Finally, some simple advice from @bookslinger who tweeted “Bung them in any curry. We had one in tomato and chorizo sauce last night.”
Plenty of inspiration from our twitter pals. And if you want to try my own favourite bit of courgette cuisine, read on…
Courghetti Spaghetti – a recipe
1. Cook some spaghetti pasta – however you usually cook it.
2. Fry some chopped onions in a pan until soft. And some garlic if you so wish.
3. Grate courgette into that same pan. An average size courgette per person should see you right.
4. Cook until the courgette is tender, but avoid turning it to mush. You may wish to loosen it all with a bit of water from the spaghetti pan.
5. Chop up some capers and lob them into the pan.
6. Add a squirt of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. If you’re feeling particularly cheffy, chuck in some fresh herbs as well. Basil, oregano, chives… whatever takes your fancy. And if you’re feeling spicy sprinkle in some chopped chilli.
7. Drain the pasta, rinse it with cold water, and combine with the courgette mix and a good glug of olive oil.
8. Serve with a grating of parmesan cheese.
*Pam also promised a recipe for courgette chutney will be appearing on her website soon http://400gooseberries.wordpress.com/