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How to deal with a glut of courgettes

by Bo Simmons -

It is now August and vegetable producers have had a bonanza this year. Growing conditions have been good for vegetables grown outside, but some need a little more nursing. Given a little protection and a couple of courgette plants they will give you an unlimited supply throughout the summer. The problem comes when everybody has the same vegetables and the exchange is the same thing!

The courgette seems to have risen in popularity after the war, probably thanks to the Italians, who call it Zucchini and the publication of cookery books by Elizabeth David about Mediterranean food. Her books inspired my mother and many of her generation to be adventurous with food and to cook simply. She still inspires me today.

Courgettes are believed to have come from America where they grew wild as a climber. Now the plant has been bred to have a bushy habit and is more suitable for growing here. There seems to have been a proliferation of them this year so i thought that it would be a good idea to tempt the taste buds with a few ideas. First perhaps it would be useful to know that these delicious vegetables pack quite a punch with helping to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, constipation, weight loss and much more. They contain potassium, fibre, few calories and plenty of vitamin A and C. To a lesser degree courgettes provide us with the complex B vitamins, thiamin, riboflavin and pyridoxine and minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.

I use them both raw in salads and cooked, sautéed, steamed, griddled and in baking. I bought some Turriefield courgettes from Scoop and thought that I would make a chocolate and courgette cake. I fiddled around with two recipes and came up with a cake that looked and tasted pretty yummy. The verdict from the Scoop staff was a resounding mmmmmm!

Chocolate and Courgette Cake

Course: Main

Servings: 8 people

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35-40 minutes

  • Unsalted butter - 120 grams
  • Vegetable oil - 125 ml
  • Caster sugar - 100 grams
  • Soft Brown sugar - 200 grams
  • Shetland free range eggs - 3
  • Shetland Dairies milk - 130 ml
  • Plain flour - 350 grams
  • Cocoa powder - 4 tbsp
  • Baking powder - 2 tsp
  • Courgettes - 450 grams (finely grated)
  • Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
  • Unsalted Butter - 175 grams
  • Icing Sugar - 350 grams
  • Cocoa Powder - 50 grams
  • Water -
  1. Grease and line a non stick 20cms/9 inch clipsided tin.
  2. Turn oven on to 190c/gas mark 5
  3. Put butter, vegetable oil and both sugars into a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy( i would put it into my kenwood with the k beater). Gradually add the eggs and then the milk.
  4. Sift the dry ingredients and fold them into the mixture, finally add courgettes and vanilla.Spoon into the tin and smooth the top.Bake 35-40 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean.
  5. Whilst the cake is cooking prepare the icing.Cream the butter then add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa and beat to soft. Add a little water to lighten the texture.
  6. When cake is cooked leave to cool on a wrack. when cold remove from tin and place on a plate. Carefully cover the top of the cake with the icing and serve.
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To follow, is a favourite salad starter and one that is particularly good with the very small courgettes. If you can get hold of some yellow courgettes too it makes a very attractive dish. The original recipe came from another couple of my guru's Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers of River cafe fame.

Courgette Carpaccio

Course: Main

Servings: 6 people

  • Courgettes - 1 kilo
  • Rocket or red salad leaves - 225 grams
  • Olive oil - 3 tbsp (extra virgin)
  • Lemon - 1 (rind and juice)
  • Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper -
  • Parmesan - 100-175 grams (shaved with a peeler)
  1. Trim the ends off the courgettes and slice thinly at an angle into ovals.Place them into a bowl.
  2. Pick over the rocket or salad leaves , wash and dry them thoroughly.
  3. Mix together the olive oil,lemon rind and juice, salt and pepper and pour over the courgettes. Leave to marinade for 5 minutes
  4. Put the salad leaves or rocket onto 6 small plates and arrange courgettes on top.Grind a little more pepper on and scatter the shaved parmesan over the top and serve immediately.
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Finally, a very special dish with one of the king of fish and uses courgettes that are about 9 inches long and 1 inch round.

Halibut on a Bed of Courgette and Carrot with Lime Butter Sauce

Course: Main

Servings: 4 people

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

  • Halibut fillets - 4 x 200 gram
  • Carrots - 2 (shredded into long wide ribbons)
  • Courgettes - 2 (shredded into long wide ribbons)
  • Fish stock - 150 ml
  • Unsalted tutter - 50 grams
  • Lime - 1 (rind and juice)
  • Maldon salt and fresh ground black pepper -
  1. Make fish stock, from skin and bones. Put bones into a pan with a glass of dry white wine,500mls water, a few parsley stalks,1 bayleaf and a small amount of sliced leek. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and cool
  2. Lightly butter an oven proof dish and place the halibut fillets into it.Cover with previously made fish stock and poach in the oven 375f/ 190c/ gas mark 5 for 5-7 minutes until just cooked.
  3. Meantime,steam the carrots and courgettes for 1-2 minutes, remove and run under cold water to refresh.
  4. Strain the fish stock off the fish into a heavy based saute pan. Keep the fish covered and in a warm place.Add the lime rind and the vegetables, heat through and using tongs remove the vegetables and place on a warm plate. Place the fish on top.Keep warm. `
  5. Turn the heat up under the sauce ,add lime juice and butter,move the pan about and reduce until glossy. Season and pour over the fish and serve.

It is a good idea to either buy a fish and fillet it yourself, so that you have the bones and skin for stock. If you do not know how to do this and the fishmonger does it for you do not forget to ask for the bones and skin so that you can make your own stock. The dish is very good served with a Red Camargue rice.

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