Courgettes or Zucchini

Courgettes are a member of the squash family, and can be placed in a grouping with other squashes that are termed “summer squashes”. Courgettes are also thought of as a baby marrows as the fruits are harvested while very small. If left to grow on the plant they will become marrow sized.

Generally the courgette is green skinned, but there are other varieties that have yellow or even a black skin. If you are lucky you may find tiny courgettes on sale with the flowers attached these are particularly prized but will be expensive. The courgette is really easy to grow I would recommend everyone who can to plant a few and grow these.

Courgettes or Zucchini?

 

In the USA and Australia, the courgette is known as a zucchini, this will have derived from the Italian word zucchini, and brought into those countries by migrants. The name courgette is the French word and this name is used in New Zealand, Great Britain and Ireland.

The flowers are popularly used in recipes where the flowers are dipped into a batter and then deep fried. The courgette flowers also can be stuffed then baked or sautéed.

Recipes with courgettes.

Generally, courgettes are served cooked. Although very small courgettes can be eaten raw when they can be chopped up and put into salads. Courgettes can be prepared in many different ways. These include steaming, boiling, grilling, roasted, sautéed, fried or barbecued. Personally, I think they should be cooked without water so my preference for cooking as a side dish is roasting, frying or sautéing. Courgette is an essential ingredient in the dish ratatouille a popular French dish from the Provençal region.

How to store courgettes.

The courgette deteriorates quickly, they are best stored in the salad compartment of your refrigerator. Where they will stay fresh for about 3 -5 days. I grow courgettes and I often end up with a large surplus, I do three things with the surplus.

1. Make into soups which are then frozen,

2. Wash dry then chop the courgettes into rough chunks and freeze these for use in soups at a later date.

3. Make a courgette “cake” with eggs, cheese and bacon, then freeze portions of this for breakfasts or snacks.

Courgette Soup Recipe: Courgette and Tomato Soup

A great taste of the summer.

Ingredients Serves 4-6

700g or 11/2 lb ripe tomatoes or tinned plum tomatoes

1 large onion chopped into ½” dice

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato puree

1kg or 2lbs courgettes (zucchini) cut into ½” dice

4 garlic cloves crushed

1.5 liters or 3 pints of vegetable stock

a handful of fresh basil leaves shredded

50g or 2 oz freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt and pepper

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large pan.

Add the onion to the pan and sauté gently for about 5 minutes, until soft.

Add the sun dried tomato puree, crushed garlic, tomatoes and courgettes.

Cook this mixture in the pan for about 10 minutes.

Add the stock, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the basil, and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the soup just before serving when the soup is in the serving bowls.

Ratatouille.

This dish is from the Provençal region of France. There is plenty of debate about the best way to cook this dish. I like this version. Other cooks believe that all the vegetables should be cooked separately and amalgamated at the end, but that’s just too messy and time consuming. This dish can be eaten hot or cold.

Ingredients serves 6 as a side dish.

1 large aubergine (eggplant) cut into 1” dice

450g (1lb) fresh tomatoes diced or 400g (14oz) tin of plum tomatoes.

1 large onion chopped into ½” dice

450g (1lb) courgettes (zucchini) cut into 1 inch dice

2 large red pepper (bell pepper) chopped into ½” wide strips

4 cloves garlic crushed.

2 tablespoons tomato puree

4 tablespoons olive oil

Handful of basil leaves shredded

Salt and pepper

Method

Heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan, add the onions garlic then and gently saute for about 5 minutes until tender, but don’t let the onions brown.

Add the aubergine (eggplant) and peppers and cook covered for about 10 minutes.

Add the courgettes (zucchini) tomatoes and tomato puree.

Bring this mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture is just simmering, cook without a lid for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Keep cooking until the ratatouille is very thick, taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.

Once cooked add the basil leaves and stir through.

This is a great way to use up all those surplus courgettes.

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