I don’t know about you, but this time of year the courgettes seem to multiply at pace in my vegetable crisper.
Truth be told, next to marrows (which are just oversizedcourgettes), this is my least favourite vegetable to cook with. I do, however, enjoy the challenge of coming up with new and creative ways to make them slightly more palatable.
Courgettes, aka zucchini, are one of the most popular vegetables in the squash family. They’re related to cucumbers and melons, and they are remarkably quick and easy to cook with. They’re great fried, roasted and grilled.
Often, I will slice courgettes lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices, brush them with olive oil and grill them on a grill pan for a few minutes on each side to soften (and give them those gorgeous dark grill lines) before using them as a layer in a lasagna, or even in a moussaka instead of aubergines.
I’ll use up a kilo of courgette sat a time in an Italian-style courgette and basil soup recipe (get recipe here) or throw some in a soup pot along with some broccoli, onion, garlic, vegetable stock and a Parmesan cheese rind for a quick lunch.
Adding courgettes to sweet home bakes is one of my favourite ways to cook with them. You’ll be familiar with carrot cake, well, courgettes can be used in a similar manner. However, they can be quite watery when grated so the trick is to grate them onto a clean kitchen towel and leave them to drain first. You can then use the grated courgettes in your recipe without worrying that the excess moisture is going to affect your baking results.
The smaller the courgette the better the flavour too, so try to get some tiny ones from your garden or local vegetable grower.
I’ve used grated, drained courgettes in chocolate cakes before, lemon and poppyseed muffins and, recently, in a rather delicious spiced courgette cupcake with cream cheese frosting (Get the recipe here). I find the little green flecks in the finished bake visually appealing, and it makes me feel a bit virtuous thinking that I've made a sweet home bake that little bit healthier.
Me: 1- Courgettes: 0.
The following recipe is an adaptation of my tried and tested banana bread that I tweaked, with success, recently to use up half a large courgette.
Spiced Banana Courgette Loaf
170 grams caster sugar
60 grams butter, room temperature
1 large free-range egg
200 grams mashed banana
200 grams plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch sea salt
100 grams grated, unpeeled courgettes, drained in kitchen cloth for 5 minutes
50 grams chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 160 C fan.
2. Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin with baking paper.
3. Grate your courgette onto a clean dish towel and leave to drain for a few minutes.
4. Cream together the butter and sugar until well combined.
5. Add the egg, and beat well.
6. Stir in the mashed banana.
7. Sift over the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
8. Fold in the drained courgettes and walnuts.
9. Spoon into the prepared loaf tin, smoothing over the top.
10. Bake in the centre of the oven for 55 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch.
11. Leave to cool in the tin for half an hour before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. This cake will keep for several days in an airtight container, and it freezes very well too.
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