If there is a totem of summer glut, then it is the courgette. If conditions are right, the plants become prolific and you can struggle to clear them before the next wave reaches maturity.
Anyone who has grown some in the garden or allotment knows the mountains of marrows that can result from a few days away from the harvest.
If your ideas in the kitchen can’t keep up with mother nature, maybe it is worth contemplating new ways to prepare them. Here is a guide to how you might, slice, chop, peel, grate and squeeze your way to the end of the season.
Hasselbacking (if such a verb exists) is back! Traditionally a preparation for potatoes, whereby they are kept whole but thinly sliced so as best to baste with oil and seasoning as they cook, leaving crisp comb-like edges. The technique couldn’t be hipper at the moment and has spread to a multitude of other veg. Slicing by eye can be tricky so the best way to avoid cutting all the way through is to lay the handle of a wooden spoon next to the courgette to stop the knife cutting down to the board. Try this recipe with plenty of fiery harissa and cooling feta.
You don’t need to wait for them to turn to marrows before stuffing them. Some dextrous scraping with the tip of a teaspoon can hollow the centres into a vessel for a tasty baked filling. Don’t waste the cores, add them to the stuffing too. This recipe with basil and ricotta version is perfect for the summer.
Long lengthways cuts can speed up cooking while keeping a shapely piece. They’ll sit pretty on the BBQ without the risk of falling through the bars when rolled, can be braised in regimented rows in a frying pan, or even crumbed and baked.
The most instinctive of the cuts and the perfect practice for your cheffy knife skills. The cut faces of the discs offer optimal contact with a pan or griddle, allowing good colour without overcooking. They are easily flipped with a pair of tongs, too. If you slice them very thinly they can be slowly cooked down into a silky pasta sauce – a great way to use a glut.
Slide them on to a kebab skewer, tumble them in a roasting tray, or sauté them down as part of a ratatouille. You can be as precise or cavalier as you like, as long as everything is roughly the same size.
After a cucumber, the courgette is the veg that’ll offer the least resistance to the blade of a peeler. Pull long ribbons and rotate after every few pulls until you get down to the seedy core. They are ideal to be used raw in salads as they have plenty of surface are to carry dressings. You can flip-flop them across a griddle to give you some attractive stripes and to take away the raw edge.
How very 2018. The craze for courgetti was spurred by a trend away from carbs and saw a host of veg being spun into noodle-like spirals and used in place of pasta – courgettes were the undoubted poster boy for the movement. Most spiralisers now lie dormant in cupboards next to the pasta machine and bread maker, but they are worth dusting off occasionally as those green spirals can be great for a salad or light lunch if dressed or sauced well.
Useful for a very fast salad option, dressed with something sharp and punchy. Any salt will draw out moisture, so dress and serve immediately for a fresh summery side. Alternatively, a handful thrown into the mix would be a great way to add moisture to a cake or bake, or to smuggle some extra veg into a Bolognese or cottage pie.
Blended or juiced
Courgettes have a clean, green freshness that acts as a great complement to sharp sweet fruit in smoothies or juices. The yield is high, the colour verdant, and any blender of extractor will make short work of the soft flesh. Consume them by the glassful.