Thursday, 20 August 2009

What to do with courgettes...

Glut is such a wonderful word. Glut.

Its harsh consonants give it the feel of one of the more abrasive swear words but it also has an inherent softness that makes it warm and cosy – a small cuddle of a word that presents ample opportunity for elaboration.

Glut. Glutton. Gluttony. Gluttonous. Gluttonously.

Words that speak of the decadently indecent.

The garden is, finally, offering up its bounty. Potatoes were dug up a fortnight ago, the maize stems are starting to bulge at the halfway point suggesting that sweetcorn is not far off. The tomatoes are barely threatening to turn from acidic green to sweet red and the courgettes?

The courgettes are taking over.

For each that we pick, two more seem to grow in their place overnight. They are like the mythical Hydra and I am failing in my Herculean task.

As a result we have them lined up in the kitchen, a rag tag bunch of all shapes and sizes. The Usual Suspects as re-imagined by a vegan pacifist.

They’ve made their way into most things. Last night’s lasagne had a layer of them, thinly sliced, in between the ragu, pasta and b├ęchamel. Diced and fried with a little garlic added at the last minute, they make an excellent addition to pasta.

Those that hid deftly under the expansive leaves and transformed into marrows have their insides scooped out and replaced with a tasty filling before being roasted.

I’m well aware that I am not alone. Courgettes seem to be as ubiquitous as Simon Cowell this summer so here is a ten point plan for what to do with them. You might guess that by the end, I was struggling. But that might be because I used up all the good ideas above…

One – Courgette Fries

I first had these crispy little bites of wonder at Italian restaurant l’Anima. Finely sliced and dipped in a light batter, deep fried courgettes are a joy and the perfect vehicle for some rich aioli.

Two – Courgette Bread

Grated and added to a sweetened bread mix in place of – or in addition to – banana, courgette adds a welcome moisture to this cake.

Three – Baked Courgette and Tomato

Layer thinly sliced courgette into a roasting dish, season and cover with a rich tomato sauce. Add another layer of courgette, more sauce and then cover liberally with cheese. Bake for 25 minutes and eat straight from the dish. Plates not necessary.

Four – Chutney

Ah, the forgotten art of preserving. Courgettes are perfect chutney fodder and take on a remarkable range of flavours beautifully, especially warming spices. We have a solitary jar of last year’s ‘Glutney’ left and it’s disappearing fast. most delicious with cheese and cold cuts. There are plenty of recipes out there but this one from HFW is a real winner.

Five – Roasted courgette with pine nuts

Simple, quick and very good with pasta. Slice or dice, dribble with oil, season, throw in a handful of pine nuts and bake. Top with Parmesan and commence nom.

Six – Barbecued Courgettes

Chargrilling courgettes really brings out a depth of flavour that is often lost when they are boiled or steamed (eurgh). Make sure your griddle or barbie is searingly hot so you get those tasty black tiger stripes on thin slices of courgette and serve with a sweet/sour yoghurty dressing.

Seven – Courgette Wine

I have no idea if this is possible but it must be worth a go? Anyone? Hello?

Eight – Doorstep Courgettes

Wait until nightfall. Take one, two or three of your largest courgettes and leave them on the doorsteps of your neighbours. Run. Go to bed happy in the knowledge that you’ve successfully ridded yourself of that particular problem. Until tomorrow and you discover that your neighbours had exactly the same idea.

Nine – Stuffed Courgette Flowers

OK, so this doesn’t really help you with eating your way through the courgette mountain taking over the kitchen but they are tasty. Stuff the flowers with well seasoned ricotta, dip in batter and deep fry. I cannot recommend these highly enough.

Ten – Courgette Portraits

Take pictures of your courgettes in various different poses and use them to illustrate a piece on what to do with a courgette glut. Realise that you still have nineteen to eat and a further seven peeping through the vegetable patch. Give up and promise not to plant so many next year.


Helen T said...

Love these, particularly the doorstep one. That happened a lot round here last year. We had a courgette challenge at dinner last weekend, which was how to use courgettes in every course. So we had courgette hummus (not bad, and pretty colour), barbecued courgettes, and then courgette cake. I'm opting for that one going forward, and a courgette pickle. From glut to gluttony in one easy step!

Helen said...

That's interesting about the courgette wine as I recently found out you can make rum from marrows. Yes, RUM. I'm excited but also a little bit scared...

Laura in Paris said...

I have tried almost all, except for 8 and 10 ...
And yes, you forgot my courgette and goat cheese flans! (recipe of the month of auust in mny blog!)
You're right, courgettes are everywhere.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Courgette fritters with loads of dill and mint, courgette slice with bacon and cheese, and I added grated courgettes to the refried bean layer of nachos recently to loosen it up a bit. Very tasty.

My tomatoes are a long way from ripening - no way will they be ready for the homegrown BLT challenge!

Anik├│ said...

Stuffed courgette flowers help you not to get that courgette mountain in the kitchen ;-) I have one monster courgette that doesn't even fit into my fridge, I need to do something with it: courgette in tomato sauce sounds beautiful and maybe I preserve them just in olive oil, we'll see for how long that will work ...

Anonymous said...

oh I agree both on how wonderful the word glut is and also on how persistent courgettes are! Here's one idea you didn't have that's on my blog

Dave said...

We deal with a courgette glut by making "zuke patties" ("zuke" being short for "zucchini," the common US name for this veg.) Shred however many courgettes you like into a bowl, crack in an egg or two - as many as needed to wet the shredded mass - then beat in flour to make a loose batter. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Heat olive oil in a skillet and drop large spoonfuls in; fry on both sides until golden brown.

Also, my mother used to peel corgettes and slice them into discs. If they were large and seedy, she would remove the seed core. Then she would toss the slices with sugar, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, and a touch of cloves, drop it all into a pastry shell, and bake a "mock apple pie." Memories like that are why I will feel no guilt when I sign the papers sealing her away in a nursing home.

Kavey said...

Brilliant post, superbly written and illustrated (love your courgette roman numberals!) and both useful (I did pick up some new courgette ideas) and entertaining!

laundryetc said...

I was thinking about if I was on Saturday Kitchen, what would be my food heaven and food hell ingredients. Food heaven - courgettes, food hell - marrow. During the courgette glut I can eat them every day and still be left longing for them when the season ends. My favourite thing is to cook them down in oil and add them to pasta with parmesan and parsley (all the p's) I made some cakes last year, with great success, but they use up very little of the veg so don't help the glut much, but do provide a talking point. Love your piece. Thanks.

Ivy said...

Glutty glut glut. Number 8 is a favorite. But I am sort of sick of them already. My zucchini plant bit me the other day! Those prickly bits hurt! Curcubits are a vicious genus...Thanks for inspiration.

Hollow Legs said...

Well, you guys might be having a glut but my two courgette plants have produced nothing yet. Flowers keep appearing and then just dropping off :(

I quite like to mandolin courgettes and dress them with lemon juice, olive oil and mint - no cooking required.

Just Cook It said...

Helen T - Love the idea of doing a full menu with courgettes at the centre, great concept.

Helen - I share your mixed excitement tinged with trepidation. Surely worth a go though?

World in a PAN - Courgette and goat's cheese flan sounds wonderful. Might be on the menu this week.

Foodycat - I can't believe I forgot fritters! I did something similar last night but with onion, more like a bhaji.

Aniko - Great idea, preserving them in some herbed oil, maybe with a little garlic, is a great idea.

Londonfoodieny - Courgette cake looks fab. Thanks for the link

Dave - Patties sound awesome. Mock apple pie, less so. I am intrigued though...

Thanks Kavey!

Laundryetc - And yet there is so little difference between the two!

Ivy - Yes those little spikes can smart a little when they, inevitably, catch probing fingers.

Lizzie - Oh no! Usually it is impossible to keep them down. Maybe it's a late cropping plant?

Thistlemoon said...

This is fantastic Alex! Courgettes, or zucchini are so very versatile! I love the idea of the fries...and yes, the wine would be intriguing.

Rebecca said...

This is a great post. We're not quite at the glut point, but are very much loving the harvesting of our own vegetables. Must try courgette portraits!

Sara said...

I call my overgrown courgettes Zeppelins! Now making my third batch of Glutney. Hadn't thought of the doorstep one.......*she says creeping off with a torch and a wheelbarrow of courgettes*

The Larder Lout said...

What a great post - fantastic. Mum always made a cracking courgette bread. Another beaut is courgettes fried in olive oil with a little garlic, then toss through some toasted pine nuts and harissa. Enjoy borough market, shame you can't make the cook off.

Sui Mai said...

I always envy people who have loads of courgettes, I just love them!

Raw with blue cheese, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, I can eat two huge ones on my own.

I also use them in miso soup, kimchee stews, etc. not traditional but still yummy.