Courgettes: Embracing the glut
Date: 11-07-2019 published by Nick Baines
Summer is awash with courgettes that can be seen spilling out of almost every commercial kitchen in the land. But as the glut takes hold, leaning into this treasured ingredient could arm you with some dynamic possibilities.
The humble courgette delivers the chef with a product that offers both flavour and texture. Unlike other members of the squash family that can have tough skins, stringy texture and a watered down taste, this ingredient has been the backbone of European dishes for centuries.
Thankfully, the post war days of chopped and boiled courgette are a thing of the past and today we enjoy a wealth of tantalising options. Cut into thick batons, many street vendors are choosing to season and deep-fry the courgette as an alternative to fries. Bringing a batter into the mix can make for a veggie alternative to be used in place of cod in Baja style fish tacos, while a gochujang marinated option creates a fiery foundation to a Korean inspired salad bowl.
Of course the notorious spiraliser is often purchased for the sole job of creating courgette, the low G.I, zero carb alternative to spaghetti that has done a good job of ascending the menu mainstay on high street menus across the UK. Spiralised courgette is also useful as a filling a Vietnamese summer rolls or in vibrant raw slaws.
As we venture into barbecue season, restaurateurs will need some inspired veggie options for the growing masses of meat dodgers and the courgette’s firm texture is perfect for long slow cooking over coals. A teriyaki marinade can get these guys off to a tremendous start, with the sugars caramelising and charring near the point of completion. As a smoky side, the courgette provides a healthy corner to barbecue plates with more potential for a higher GP compared to classics like mac & cheese.
What’s often underutilised is the courgette’s incredible partnership with cracked black pepper. The summer squash completely awakens with a healthy dose of pepper, revealing a simple combination of the ages and ready to be included with fresh Genovese pesto and taglietelle.
While the aubergine gets a good charring in order to produce a soft, subtle smoky baba ganoush, the same process can be used for the courgette too. The resulting dip can be smeared across flatbreads and wraps as a verdant base for artichoke hearts, thick segments of whole roast cauliflower and barbecued lamb chops.
However you plan to make use of this seasonal highpoint, grab your courgettes and tackle a variety of different dishes from tacos to fries and explore the true versatility of this glorious summer ingredient.
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