Coping with the glut…
July 12, 2009
Our courgettes are coming thick and fast at the moment and it’s something of a race to use them up before they reach marrow-like proportions – seriously, I swear all I have to do is blink and they double in size! I try to pick them when they’re still quite small and tasty but, if I do miss one or two and they become big and watery, then it’s no great shakes as they’re fine for chutney – which is what I’l be making later today.
One of my favourite things to make with courgettes is ratatouille – primarily because it’s so yummy but I also take great delight in the muddle of colours whilst I’m cooking it. It’s a real feast for the senses!
I thought I’d share my recipe here, in case anyone else is trying to get through their own body weight in courgettes. My version doesn’t contain any aubergine, purely due to the fact that I’ve never managed to grow any successfully and by omitting them, I can increase the quantities of courgettes. If you do want to include aubergine though, simply dice it, place in a colander, sprinkle with salt, weight it down with a plate and can (or something similar) then leave for an hour. Rinse and squeeze out any excess moisture then add to the casserole along with the courgettes.
serves 4 generously
- olive oil
- 2 red onions, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 peppers – 1 red and 1 yellow, roughly chopped
- 5 – 6 small courgettes, roughly chopped
- 2 tins of chopped tomatoes or 10 medium sized fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped
- a generous sprinkling of herbs – dry or fresh – I like oregano, parsley and thyme
- black pepper
- pinch of sugar
Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole. Cook onions until soft. Add courgettes, followed by the peppers then the garlic, giving everything a good stir between each addition. Saute for 5 mintues. Stir in the tomatoes, herbs and seasoning. Add a pinch of sugar. Cover and simmer for approximately 1 hour. Check occasionally to make sure the ratatouille isn’t sticking – if you need to, add a splash of water or red wine vinegar. When cooked, leave to cool a little before serving – this tastes best when warm, rather than piping hot. It tastes even better the next day and I often make it the day before I plan to serve it. I like to serve it with homemade focaccia bread and brown rice.
Another easy way to use up an abundance of courgettes is to make a courgette frittata. Here’s a basic recipe but you can add other vegetables too – such as onions, tomatoes, garden peas, potato etc – and you can also swap the parmesan for whatever cheese you have to hand. Feta is a particular favourite!
serves 2 – 3
- 2 – 3 medium courgettes, sliced
- 6 large eggs
- 50g parmesan, grated
- olive oil
Gently fry the courgettes in a little olive oil until soft and golden. Beat the eggs and stir in the parmesan. Add the cooked courgettes and stir gently. Turn the heat right down then pour the frittata mixture back into the frying pan. Cook gently, running a spatular or similar around the edge every now and again to prevent sticking and give a nice rounded edge. The cooking time depends a lot on the size of pan your using but the friattata is ready when all the egg is set. If necessary, you can speed things up a little by finishing off under a medium grill. I usually serve this with salad and lots of crusty bread. It’s also tasty served cold.
One final and very simple idea is to roast the courgettes along with some other summer vegetables. This is my basic recipe but again, it can easily be adapted to whatever herbs and veg you have handy.
Oven Roasted Vegetables
serves 4 as an accompaniment
- 1 red onion, cut into wedges
- 2 red peppers, cut into chunks
- 2 – 3 small courgettes
- 4 tomatoes, quartered
- a few fresh rosemary sprigs
- olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6. Place chopped vegetables in a large shallow tray and pour over olive oil. Mix well then tuck in a few sprigs of rosemary amongst the vegeatbles. Season with salt and pepper and bake for approximately 35 minutes or until vegetable are starting to char a little around the edges. This goes really well with lamb and, if you’re using chops or cutlets, you can nestle them in amongst the veg and cook the whole lot together.