Tuesday 12 August 2014

A Glut of Courgettes? 10 ways to Devour Them Deliciously

I love courgettes!  Every year I hear about the gluts of courgettes and the ensuing dilemmas of what to do with them.  I buy them constantly all through the summer and serve them from their first appearance in early summer into the autumn in various guises.  

It's easy to see a theme running through the series of courgette recipes in this post.  My fairly consistent recycling of onion, salty cheese, often tomatoes, lemon, nuts and herbs in support of the star ingredient courgettes are rehashed into different shapes and guises, mostly either fried or baked.  Although I didn't include bacon amongst these ideas, this is a wonderful complement and one I often use. The idea I wish to share is that with a very simple range of ingredients there are endless ways to use these prolific fruits of the squash family imaginatively and deliciously.

These 10 recipes are the product of improvising, and I would urge you to consider any of the ingredients suggested can be swapped depending on what cheese, herbs, nuts or any other ingredients you have.  

There are some basic considerations with courgettes. The smaller they are, the more flavourful and sweet their flavour. The bigger ones have more water and less flavour.  Therefore, if you have a range of sizes, let this be the first consideration in deciding what to cook.

The size of courgette recommended for each dish is indicated at the start of each recipe.

1. Courgette ribbon salad with hemp oil, lemon & pink peppercorn dressing

Medium and small courgettes

This pretty salad is met with surprise. The ribbons can be made with a vegetable peeler. First take one strip off the courgette and discard, do the same on the opposite side and discard.  Next place the peeler directly over the empty strip and peel away over the same spot.  The ribbons will have a green stripe along each side. Stop when you reach the soft seedy centre. At this point turn over and repeat, shaving the ribbons on the other side until you reach the centre. Discard the seeds.  

The dressing is hemp oil with lemon juice, salt & pepper with some crushed pink peppercorns and fresh dill folded through it.  Pink peppercorns are a heady aromatic spice with a subtle note of rose which adds mild heat and a delicate floral fragrance.

2. Courgette & goat cheese muffins

Large and medium courgettes

This is a summer delight and works beautifully when served with a light summer soup or part of a sharing platter.
  • 50ml oil (olive or rapeseed)
  • 50ml white wine or milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 200gm grated courgettes
  • 100gm goat cheese crumbled
  • 100gm self raising flour, or plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder
  • Handful of mint
Preheat oven to 190C. (375F gas mark 5)
  1. Mix the oil, wine and eggs and beat well.
  2. Fold in the courgettes and cheese.
  3. Add the flour and seasoning plus herbs
  4. Bake in muffin cases or a loaf tin for about 15-20 minutes until the middle is firm. If baking a loaf, obviously longer. You do know what to do, you know you do......
  5. When cooked allow to cool slightly and best served right there and then.  They keep in an air tight container for a few days. Nicer if warmed through.

3. Courgette, Pea & Cheddar Quiche

Large and medium courgettes

Everyone loves a homemade tart. Super feel good when making this one.

My pastry recipe is one that has produced consistently good results for 20 years, or buy some shop bought pastry if time or inclination is lacking.  
  • 300gm grated courgettes
  • 200gm grated Cheddar cheese (or any cheese you have)
  • 1 cup (thereabouts, it doesn't really matter) of frozen peas
  • 4 sliced spring onion, or 1 small red onion
  • A handful of mint leaves chopped
  • 6 eggs 
  • 300ml double cream
  • S & P
  1. Pre heat oven to 190 C. Roll out pastry to fit a 25cm fluted quiche tin or as I did in10cm fluted individual cases. Chill the pastry lined case and then blind bake for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix the grated and chopped stuff (1st 5 ingredients in list above).  Beat the cream, eggs and seasoning and mix the grated and chopped stuff.
  3. Pour into the blind baked pastry case and cook in the preheated oven for hmmmm ..... about 25 minutes.  
  4. Again you know what to do.... press the middle of the quiche and does it feel firm? Yes, then it's ready. No, and put it back for another 5 minutes. Is it browning too quick? Turn the oven down.
  5. Allow to cool for 15 - 20 minutes and serve with a salad. 

4. Courgette Fritters

Large and medium courgettes

This is one of my first fast food ready meals, which I make with just about anything grated or chopped finely. Here it works beautifully with courgettes and is made in 12 minutes start to finish.  I use gram flour (chickpea flour) which is gluten free. If you don't have gram flour, replace with half the amount of plain wheat flour and one egg and do not add water.

Served in this picture with roasted pink, yellow and red beetroot and tomato salsa with herby yogurt dip.
  • 1 large courgette
  • Half a red onion or spring onions
  • 100gm gram flour
  • 1tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 small handful of coriander or mint or both
  • Finely grated lemon rind (optional)
  • About 100ml water but depends, depends, depends.
  • Rapeseed or sunflower oil.
Yogurt & herb cucumber dip
  • 200ml natural yogurt
  • Half a cucumber grated
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Handful of mint
  • Handful of dill
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Add the gram flour, chilli, grated lemon rind, salt and pepper
  2. Mix very well and add water until you have a paste.
  3. Add the herbs.
  4. Heat a liberal amount of oil until fairly hot and fry a dessert spoonful of the mixture at a time.
  5. DO NOT HASSLE the fritters! Resist poking and annoying them as they fry, no matter how tempting.  Leave 'till golden and crunchy and then turn. 
  6. Drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Serve with a yogurt and herb dip. The recipe is the list of ingredients combined into a glorious fragrant mix. AND lemon wedges.

5. Stuffed Courgettes

Large and medium courgettes

I recommend being improvisational when it comes to stuffing courgettes. Also good method for using up the larger courgettes, along with any bits and pieces knocking around. Try to simply mix a basic combination of some onions for sweetness and base flavour, with nuts & cheese and, or bacon for texture, whilst building the flavour by adding sweet and saltiness. Adding a tomato sauce and serving potato wedges will make a vegetarian dish in its own right. Perfect as a side with soup for a light meal or to make a simple meat or fish dish more special.

This serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main
  • 4 large courgettes 
  • 1 medium red onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed to a paste
  • 2 tomatoes finely chopped.
  • 60gm chopped roasted hazelnuts
  • 100gm crumbled feta cheese
  • Good handful of mixed fresh herbs (parsley, mint, dill), chop finely
  • 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese to garnish
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  1. Cut the courgette in half lengthways. Scrape out the seeds and discard. Carefully hollow out some flesh to make a channel along its length. Chop the flesh and reserve.
  2. Place the hollowed out courgette flesh side down on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil, bake for 10 minutes in a hot oven for about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, fry the finely chopped onions in some oil for 5 minutes, then add the garlic paste for 1 minute. Add the reserved courgette flesh and chopped tomatoes, cook for a couple of minutes, take off the heat.
  4. Add the nuts, crumbled cheese, herbs and breadcrumbs.
  5. Place this mix into the hollowed out courgette and press firmly down. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
  6. Place in an oven proof dish and cook for 10-15 minutes.
Optional Tomato & Basil Sauce
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed to a paste
  • 1 stick of celery 
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
    1. Fry the chopped onion in olive oil (with bay leaf) for 5 minutes, add the finely chopped celery for 2-3 minutes, add the garlic until the aroma can be smelt.
    2. Add the tomato puree followed by optional glug of white wine and allow to reduce
    3. Add the chopped tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil, then turn to a simmer.
    4. Simmer for 15 minutes.
    5. Season and blitz to a smooth sauce.
    6. Add the basil

    6. Courgette & Halloumi burgers

    Large and medium courgettes

    The saltiness of halloumi is made for courgette. When the halloumi is cooked it makes for a deliciously chewy burger. I have served this for many years as the vegetarian offering at BBQ's, with great success. Served here with tomato salsa and a yellow courgette ribbon salad with hemp oil dressing with pink peppercorns. (see recipe no.1).
    • 200g grated courgettes (1 large courgette or 2 medium)
    • half a bunch of finely sliced spring onions
    • 125g grated halloumi
    • a good handful of mint
    • 2 eggs
    • 75g plain flour
    • finely grated lemon
    • Sunflower oil for shallow frying
    1. Grate the courgette and squeeze out the excess liquid.
    2. Add the grated halloumi, mint and lemon rind, mix very well.
    3. Add the flour and mix the eggs until you have a gloopy mix.
    4. Fry the mixture in hot oil. 
    5. Top tip is to fry in a ring so the burger will be neat.
    6. Garnish with a flower, cut in half lengthways.

    7. Griddled Courgettes

    Medium and small courgettes

    One of the best ways to use your glut up and a must for your raft of courgette side dishes.  Beautiful accompaniment with any main or salad platter.
    • Slice length ways and baste in olive oil.
    • Griddle fry in a hot pan or even better on a cast iron ridged pan.
    • Do not hassle they as they fry. It is better to let them caramelise without moving them.
    • As they come off the griddle, season with good sea salt and lemon juice.

    8. Courgette Parmigiana

    Best for large and medium courgettes

    This is of course a variation of melanzane parmigiana but works just as well.  Also consider making a classic moussaka with the courgettes replacing the more usual aubergine.

    If I had to choose just one recipe in the collection as my favourite, this is it.

    A main dish in its own right. Serve with the best bread you can get your hands on and a crispy green salad.

    This recipe serves 4
    • 4 large courgettes sliced along the length and griddle fry until golden. (see tips in recipe no.7)
    • 1 quantity of tomato sauce (see recipe no.5 above)
    • 1 large ball of mozzarella (350gm)
    • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
    • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan 
    1. Preheat oven to 190C. 
    2. Place a layer of griddled slices of courgettes on the bottom of an oven proof dish.
    3. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the courgettes, tear some mozzarella and dot over the tomato sauce.
    4. Repeat the previous step twice.
    5. Finish with breadcrumbs and Parmesan sprinkled over the top.
    6. Baked for 25 minutes or until golden on the top.
    Serve with a big green salad and bread.

    9. Courgette & Spelt Soup

    Large and medium courgettes

    This is a sturdy and wholesome summer soup.  All the greens and herbs along with the spelt grains make a hearty light supper.  Served here with small croutons & grated Parmesan. 
    • 2 large courgettes cut into small chunks
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 medium onion chopped finely
    • 1 fat clove of garlic crushed to a paste
    • 1 big bay leaf
    • 1 rib of celery (optional, but nice)
    • 1 fat chilli (optional, but very nice)
    • 1 handful of green beans cut in half
    • 1 cup of frozen peas 
    • 1 big handful of parsley, mint and dill (or any variation) chopped finely
    • 75gm spelt grain, well rinsed
    • 300ml chicken stock or veg stock
    • Seasoning
    1. Once all the vegetables are cut up and prepared, start by frying the onions in olive oil until softened and just starting to turn golden, then add the celery and stir fry for a minute. 
    2. Add the garlic, stir until you can smell its aroma, followed by the chopped courgettes and chilli if using.
    3. Stir the courgettes in the unctuous oniony mix until it just begins to colour. Then add the rinsed spelt grain and stir until the grains are coated with the oil.
    4. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
    5. Add the green beans and frozen peas.
    6. Towards the end at the heady mix of freshly chopped herbs and season.

    10. courgette & feta & tomato salad

    Medium and small courgettes

    This is a gorgeous salad, and one I simply never seem to tire of. By griddle frying the courgettes it renders them sweet and caramelised.  Mixed with the salty feta and sharpness of tomato, it makes for a classic summer dish.
    • 4 or 5 small to medium courgettes
    • 2 tbsp olive oil for frying + 1tbsp olive oil for dressing
    • 2 tomatoes
    • 50g feta cheese crumbled
    • 1 tbsp parsley or mint
    • Half a lemon
    • Seasoning
    1. Cut the courgettes into chunks and toss in about 2 tbsps olive oil.
    2. Once lightly tossed in oil fry in a very hot pan without adding any more oil. Allow to turn golden. Do not keep moving the courgettes! They will cook quicker and gain a beautiful colour without being poked about the pan.
    3. Set aside and cut the tomato into chunks.
    4. Add the crumbled feta, tomatoes, griddled courgettes.
    5. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, seasoning and fresh parsley or mint.

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