When they arrive, they come by the bucketload. Courgettes (zucchinis if you’re American) are now abundant. In England last week they were generally as thick as your thumb, whereas in Spain this week they’re more like the size of a forearm.
Anyone who grows courgettes will want to be well stocked with things to do with them. You can grill courgettes on a ridged grill pan or barbecue, and combine them with other vegetables, or with chickpeas for a big dish to share. Or when they’re big, split them in half lengthways, grill over charcoal until the outside is blackened, and then leave to cool a little, slice off the blackened skin and drizzle the soft flesh with olive oil and lemon juice, and add some chopped mint.
I’m making an effort to eat more eggs, which is a challenge as I don’t really like the taste of eggs. The answer is an omelette laden with vegetables, herbs and cheese. The one pictured above was made by sautéing three handfuls of chopped courgettes in olive oil until they took some colour, and then adding four beaten eggs. When the omelette is brown underneath and firm on top, add sliced cheese and put under an overhead grill (broiler) until the cheese is golden. With a green salad on the side it was a perfect summer supper for two people.
Courgettes work well with the trinity of anchovy, chilli and garlic – as in this pasta dish which uses a neat trick of grating the courgettes first.
One of the classic ways of using up courgettes is to make ratatouille. A good ratatouille takes a bit of time, as each ingredient is cooked separately, and then only combined to serve the dish.
This is a sort of cheat’s version of it using just courgettes, onions, garlic and tomatoes. Sauté two onions until translucent, add four handfuls of sliced courgettes and stir occasionally until they are just starting to take on some colour. Add three cloves of crushed garlic at this point, and stir for one minute more. Throw in three handfuls of tomatoes cut into halves or quarters (with the little green stalk cut out). Give the pan a shake but don’t stir it. Turn the heat to low, and cook, shaking every now and then but never stirring, until the liquid from the tomatoes has all but evaporated.
This can be served straightaway, or allowed to cool to room temperature. Serve it as a side dish to grilled meat or fish, or add some cheese, crusty bread and a salad for a summer lunch.