Anyone who grows courgettes always seems to have too many, and is constantly trying to get rid of them, often by offloading them onto unwary friends whose initial enthusiasm for some real home grown vegetables commits them to years of creative excuses for not accepting any more.
One day, when I was walking home from my allotment, a friend came walking towards me from the opposite direction.
I was just about to greet him when he blurted out with:
“I don’t want any more courgettes!”
“I haven’t got any” I said
I lied, my rucksack was full of them, but I valued our friendship.
I am of a generation who grew up in complete ignorance of the existence of courgettes and didn’t have my first until I was over 30 years old. Even then it wasn’t a good experience, luke-warm and slimey, slithering around a plate full of funny tasting oil. I decided they weren’t for me, and if eating this Mediterranean stuff enabled you live forever than I’d rather die young eating a plate full of pork pie and mushy peas.
When I first started growing vegetables (about 10 years ago) I decided that rather than trying to grow just what I liked, I would instead try lots of things in order to discover what was easy to grow in my area, on my plot, and then to learn to like them. Luckily much of what I was accustomed to grew quite well, and then there were the new things like quinoa, cape gooseberries, mizuna, ………. and courgettes.
Early on in my growing experiments, I entered a ‘lets try absolutely everything’ period. As part of this huge experiment I stuck a few courgette seeds in a pot, more in hope than expectation, thinking they were something exotic from much warmer climes, and would never survive in the Pennines. They grew like weeds! I was sick of them within 3 weeks of the first exciting discovery. I gave them away to everyone I knew, and then to people I didn’t know, and still they kept coming. I had no idea what to do with them.
They look sweet and innocent enough when young but don’t be fooled.
This overproduction situation persisted for a couple of years as I gradually reduced the number of plants I grew, to the minimum of two, for pollination, but it did no good. They still swamped me, so I had to think of something else. I had to develop more strategies, and of course discover more recipes.
Pick them, don’t leave them!
Picking stops them getting any bigger, a delaying tactic at best, but you still end up with them everywhere, and new ones appear on the plant instantly, seemingly overnight, which often prompts comments like:
“I’m sure that wasn’t there yesterday”
“Where are they all coming from?”
“How can they grow so fast?”
But it’s better to pick them than leave them, as after a week they turn into 2kg marrows and then what do you do with them?
Turn your back on them for a minute and this is what happens
What shall I do with all this lot? The knife is a carving knife and the thing behind is the top of a compost bin.
Doing arty stuff on courgettes doesn’t slow them down but it seems to help anyway. Prick holes in young courgettes in any shape you want, or scratch with the point of a sharp knife, and the artwork grows with the courgette over then next few days. Rude words are especially good. Get kids to write their names on them. I like to give courgettes away with smiley faces on them (can you tell?).
Artwork and photo: Jane Watson
The obvious solution was to learn more recipes so that I could make full use of the annual onslaught instead of giving them away and, as I mentioned earlier, to learn to like what grew well. When faced with gluts of other produce I would consult old recipe books to see how things were dealt with simply in the past, but courgettes are quite new to this country and the Victorians never mention them. Waiting room magazines are always good for recipes because courgettes are quite trendy (for some inexplicable reason), but the recipes tend to be very elaborate and always seem to involve purchasing thirty quids worth of rare spices, which you’ll never use for any other meal. Down to earth magazines aimed at allotmenteers and smallholders are better. The internet is awash with fancy recipes and you have to be very determined to find simple solution. But look no further as I have experimented with quite a few recipes and I have listed the tried and tested ones here for you. A way to fight back, without spending much money.
Don’t let courgettes bully you!
So here are my recipe suggestions, and as I come across more recipes I’ll add them here. Perhaps you have one you’d like to share and add to the list, but only if it doesn’t involve Frankincense, moon dust, or the tail feather of a unicorn.
1 – Courgette/marrow Marmalade – see separate article on this web site >
This recipes uses up 6lbs of courgettes/marrow at a time and makes excellent Christmas presents.
2 – Courgette, lemon and ginger wine – will be uploaded soon
This recipe makes use of the spare juices generated by the above recipe, and makes a lovely wine.
3 – Spiraliser courgette recipes – see separate article on this web site>
I have discovered a helpful gadget and you can read about my journey of discovery in a separate article on this web site (read by clicking the link above). The recipes include: salads, chip worms, …… add more
4 – Young courgette dipping sticks
When picked very young most courgettes, (depending on the variety), can be quite peppery and firm, even crunchy, and are great to eat raw, cut into long sticks. Fantastic with dips. It’s difficult to buy small young courgettes at the shops so this is a treat for home growers, and a nice surprise for their guests. And you get the little blighters when they are small.
5 – Courgette stock
Most varieties of courgette melt when boiled for long enough. One or two are bred to hold their shape for longer but it matters not, just boil them for a bit longer. The resulting liquid makes an excellent base for a vegetable stock, particularly if herbs are added too. Make up big batches and freeze in portions sizes for winter stews and soups.
The spiraliser comes in handy here.
6 – Courgette boats
Split ‘em, scoop ‘em, fill ‘em, bake ‘em.
You get the general idea. Older courgettes need their soft seedy bits scooping out anyway.
The courgettes, if small, can be used as they are but bigger ones need to cooked until nearly tender whilst you prepare the other stuff. It’s very quick and easy.
What you put in the boats is up to you but slices cheese and tomato are always good. Mozzarella is great but so then is a nice cheddar.
Chorizo, mature cheddar and sweet ‘Sungold’ tomatoes.
7 – Courgette and brie soup (Joyce’s recipe)
I was sent this recipe by a friend, just after I had just managed to convince her to have some courgettes. This recipe took up of half a kilogram of courgette and it took me days to eat it as the recipe would have fed 6-8 people, so adjust measures accordingly.
Everything is diced up, even the cheese.
1 onion – approx 150gm
A little oil
1 garlic clove
350g potato or sweet potato -1 x med-large one
1.5 litres of veg stock (or veg stock powder/cubes and hot water)
450g – 500g courgettes ( I used 500g) -half a biggish one
150g brie (200g pack with the rind cut off)
Soften onion in a little oil then add garlic. Add courgettes, potato and stock. Cook 15 mins. or until soft before adding brie to melt down. Ideally it should be blitzed in a liquidizer, but you can sieve, mash or whisk it smoother. Or you can just eat as it is.
8 – Baked Garlic Courgette and Stuffed Tomato
My allotment usually yields a plentiful supply of courgettes and large beef tomatoes at the same time and so I started cooking this combination.
Baked garlic courgette and stuffed tomato
The courgettes are sliced into1.5 – 2cm thick slices, then 4 or 5 thin slots are gently made the in the top.
Cut garlic into very thin slices then cut each slice in half.
These thin slivers of garlic are pushed into the holes in the top of the courgette.
4 or 5 slots cut into the top and slices of garlic pushed in
Sprinkle pepper, rosemary, etc. on top then bake on a lightly oiled tray.
Sprinkled with pepper
You can give the courgettes a little spray of oil too.
Courgette and tomatoes sprinkled with pepper and rosemary
Cut off the top
Scoop out some of the inside.
Fill with stuffing of your choice.
Bake on a lightly oiled tray.
That’s it for now.
If I come up with any more I’ll add them here.