Whether they’re coming from your garden or your vegbox, courgettes are a reliable summer staple; a doddle to grow and versatile in the kitchen. Ours are grown by Andy Hayllor and other members of the South Devon Organic Producers co-op. They do well even in a damp summer and are one of the most vigorous, high-yielding crops of the year. Store your courgettes in a cool place. Although they look fine for a week or more, they lose their flavour quickly and are best eaten within a few days.
Courgettes can be used in all sorts of dishes; either as the star of a meal or thrown in to bulk out curries, sauces, ratatouille and chillis. You can knock up a simple sauce from courgettes in the time it takes your pasta to cook: grate and cook them in olive oil until soft, then season and add some chopped tarragon and capers. Toss with the pasta and grate over a little lemon zest and parmesan for a quick summery supper. Another simple weeknight idea is to layer sliced tomatoes and courgettes in a gratin dish, sprinkling the layers with a little olive oil, a few oregano leaves and some salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit more oil and bake for half an hour at 200°C until tender and patched with brown.
Deep-fried courgettes make a moreish treat. First, make a light batter by mixing 150g plain flour with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and enough lukewarm water to make a double cream consistency. Leave to rest for 20 minutes, then just before use, fold in two stiffly whipped egg whites and some seasoning. Cut courgettes into chips, dip them in the batter and deep-fry until light brown. Fresh courgettes can be good in salads too – grate or slice them thinly (squeezing over some lemon juice helps to bring them to life). If you have a favourite recipe for courgettes enter it in our monthly competition on the Riverford Cooks website. Every month the best recipe wins a fruit box, so get your culinary juices going at cooks.riverford.co.uk.