Top Tips for Cooking with Courgettes
Courgette (or zucchini as it is known in the U.S and Italy) is in season in the UK between June and September. Part of the squash family, courgettes descended originally from the Americas but the type of courgettes that we are now familiar with were grown in Italy during the 1800s. The word zucchini comes from Italian, however the word we use, courgette, stems from the French word for squash courge; itself a derivation from the Latin cucurbita, or gourd.
Dark green courgettes are the most familiar variety, but look out for white or yellow courgettes to liven up dishes or hunt down the flavourful trompette courgette, which is long and winding with a bulbous end much like the musical instrument it is named after. A marrow isn’t a different type of fruit, rather it is the fully matured courgette and can be up to a metre in length.
Courgettes are very easy to grow and during the summer months. People tend to become overrun with them but fortunately there are so many ways to eat courgettes you should never get bored. Fortunately, they are low in calories and high in vitamins A and C, so they really are good for you too.
When buying courgettes look for firm, shiny and unblemished fruits which feel heavier than they look when picked up. If they feel spongy this means they are past their best, so should be avoided. Courgettes will keep happily in the fridge for two to three days; any more than this and they will start to lose their flavour and become bitter.
There are many ways to enjoy courgettes, in a soup, for example, or how about as a new way to eat bhajias? My personal recommendation is to try this amazing courgette curry, or as part of a filling Courgette, Cauliflower and Kidney Bean Korma.
But to get the best from this fruit, follow the directions below to roast them. When you do this you will release an intense sweet woodiness that simply can’t be topped!
All you do is preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C), then top and tail the courgettes, and slice them lengthways into slices about ¼ in (5 mm) thick. Brush the strips on both sides with oil and season with freshly milled black pepper. Then put them on a heavy-based roasting tray and bake on the top shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking. They should end up nice and crispy.