I don’t think there is a collective noun for courgettes but ‘a glut’ seems most fitting for July. The unusually balmy weather we’ve been having of late has given our courgette plant the strength and audacity to take over our entire raised bed, and perhaps even the world were it not stopped. Triffid-like and rampant, it has pushed everything else out of the way, leaving the squash, beetroot and tomatoes in its wake before triumphantly displaying a dozen or so silky courgettes, resplendent with beautiful orange flowers, all ripe for the picking. The speed of this process really was astounding to us first timers – I wish we could have employed David Attenborough’s people to make one of those time lapse videos.
As a consequence of this invasion, courgettes have featured in most meals recently – somehow we managed to use them all up and never tire of the things. Here are some favourites:
1. Pasta with courgettes, sage and parmesan (serves 4)
Put 500g of pasta in a pan of boiling salted water with a splash of olive oil (penne is good here to draw in the sauce). Slice the courgettes into a shape of your liking, heat a frying pan and add a splash of olive oil and a knob of butter. When the butter starts to bubble cut 3-4 sage leaves roughly with scissors over the pan then add the courgettes and fry until lightly browned. Add a cup of vegetables stock and a splash of white wine then turn up the heat so it bubbles fiercely for a bit. Then turn the heat off and add a handful of grated parmesan, a glug (or 2) of cream, a generous pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Drain the pasta and throw it in the sauce while it’s still wet. Toss together and serve at the table with more parmesan at the ready.
2. Courgette and sweet potato fritters (makes about 10)
These little puppies went down very well as a starter. In a mixing bowl put 2 tbsps of flour and make a well in the middle with a wooden spoon. Crack an egg into the well, add a splash of milk and season. Stir vigourously and add a few more splashes of milk until you have a smooth, thick batter. Grate a medium sweet potato and 1 big/2 small courgettes and stir into the batter – the batter should just coat the vegetables, not drown them. Sprinkle in half a tsp of mixed spice, cumin and ground coriander. Heat up some groundnut oil in a non stick pan until it smokes, load some of the mixture onto a big spoon and slide in the fritters one by one. Fry and turn until crisp and brown on both sides. We dipped them into Lingham’s chilli sauce and they were gooooood.
3. Carrot, courgette and fennel slaw
Grate carrots, courgettes and a fennel bulb into a big bowl, add enough natural yoghurt to coat everything and then some lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with sesame seeds and fresh mint.
4. Roasted courgette flowers stuffed with feta and pine nuts
I know it’s de rigueur to deep fry your courgette flowers but I can’t always be bothered to whisk up a batter, plus it’s a bit of a shame to plunge these delicate orange blooms into a hot vat of oil, so I decided to roast mine and they retained their flavour wonderfully. Gently open the flowers and stuff them with a handful of crumbled feta and some pine nuts. Season and squeeze in some lemon juice. Gently push the petals back together, lay in a baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes at 180º.
Happy courgette season from Salad Club!