The courgette glut is a well-known phenomenon. Every year I know it’s coming, and every year I continue to be surprised by how many of these incredible vegetables can be produced by a single plant in a very short space of time. We have about 5 courgette plants on our allotment and I would say only 3 of these are producing most of the fruits, but my goodness they’re unstoppable! It’s a wonderful problem to have and I would never complain about any kind of abundance of food, and we have enjoyed giving some of our bounty away, but it certainly presents a challenge to try and keep up with the influx. To give you some idea, at the time of writing this post we have precisely 20 courgettes sitting on our kitchen counter (thankfully they store reasonably well and have been holding up well in this heat too) of varying sizes including 3 absolutely humongous ones.
So how do you use a glut of courgettes? I know I can’t be the only one in this predicament, so I thought I’d put together a post with some tips for managing their growth a little bit, some of the ways I have prepared them in the past, some recipes I continue to go back to time and time again, and some things I’m hoping to try.
For me, courgettes don’t need more than just simply chopping and roasting in some olive oil, but when you’ve got this many it’s all about variety and it’s also well worth finding ways to preserve them whether that’s for a couple of weeks in the fridge or up to a year in the freezer.
Grilled courgettes with lemon and garlic
I use younger courgettes for this recipe as the larger ones tend to have developed a soft centre with tough seeds which needs to be removed and so makes this recipe more tricky. Slice your courgettes thinly using a mandolin – I like to do this lengthways, but you can always slice in rounds if it’s easier. Generously oil a griddle pan and bring up to a high heat. Place your courgette pieces on the griddle and turn once they’ve developed a lovely char on one side – try not to move them around too much or you wont get those char lines. They shouldn’t stick to the pan if it has been oiled well. After cooking, place in a bowl with a generous amount of lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. They can be kept like this for a couple of weeks in the fridge if you pop them in a jar and fill with olive oil. The olive oil will set slightly at cold temperatures, so just get the jar out of a fridge a bit before you want to enjoy your courgettes so it can melt. This is a great summer side dish or topping for some crusty bread.
Courgettes in tomato sauce
Chop up the courgettes into rough cube shapes removing any soft bits or tough seeds and pop them in a pan with a drizzle of oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic and perhaps some chilli or paprika (have fun with it) and continue to cook until starting to soften nicely. Pour over chopped tomatoes or passata and heat through. This is a great side dish for all sorts of meals and can be made in a big batch and frozen for an easy vegetable portion that lasts through the year.
I’m thoroughly excited this year to be able to make a decent ratatouille entirely using ingredients grown on our allotment (bar the seasonings of course). We have always done quite well with onions, tomatoes and courgettes, but this will be the first year of having enough homegrown aubergines and peppers as well. My approach is to toughly chop everything and throw it all in together and cook it down with seasonings and perhaps some herbs and spices like fennel, basil, bay etc. I believe you’re meant to cook all of the vegetables separately so that they keep their own flavours but heck that sounds overcomplicated!
Courgette & Ginger Cake
My recipe for courgette and ginger cake came about when I asked my followers on Instagram what they did with all of their courgettes in the summer. One person suggested making courgette and ginger jam (see below) which was surprising to me but after a quick internet search I realised it was actually quite popular. I decided to have a go and the combination was really good, so I wondered how it would work in a yummy, dense loaf cake inspired by the McVities “Jamaican Ginger Cake” I used to eat all the time when I was growing up. I was so happy with the result I made more to freeze and with careful wrapping it keeps exceptionally well. I now make this every year and keep plenty for the freezer too for cake on demand.
As I mentioned above, courgette and ginger jam was a suggested made to me when I polled my Instagram followers. I used this recipe from Tales from the Kitchen Shed and it worked really well and is a tasty accompaniment to a cheese board. My Mother-in-Law was particularly fond of it which is a win in anyone’s book isn’t it? My only tweak would be to grate the courgette rather than finely chopping it – for one thing it’s much quicker especially if you use the grating attachment on a food processer, and I found that using small cubes meant that the pieces of courgette would rise to the top of the jar and leave just the liquor set at the bottom which is tasty enough, but it’s better to have the courgette throughout the jar.
Stuffing courgettes is a great way to use the bigger specimens, but you can do this equally well with smaller ones if you scoop out the middle and use it in the filling. Depending on how many people I’m feeding, I either slice the courgette lengthways or into 2cm-thick rounds before scooping out the soft middle with the tough seeds (this gets composted). I then drizzle the courgette with a little olive oil and roast in the oven at around 200°C Fan for 10-15 minutes covered with a lid or foil while I prepare the filling I’m going to use (I’ve listed some suggestions below). Once the filling is ready and the courgettes have had a bit of a head start, I take them out of the oven, fill them and pop them back in for another 10 minutes uncovered to finish them off.
Some of my favourite fillings:
- Lamb mince cooked with chopped onion, garlic, and a pinch each of ground cumin, ground coriander, and ground cinnamon. After cooking I drizzle over some natural yoghurt and it’s absolutely heavenly.
- Sweat some onions with some diced chorizo, or even better find some chorizo-style sausages and remove them from their skins. Cook with some chopped red pepper, sweetcorn, perhaps some cherry tomatoes.
- Couscous with plenty of finely diced peppers, carrots, onion, and some parsley. Sprinkle with plenty of feta after cooking!
Stuffed courgette flowers
Courgette plants have separate male and female flowers: the male flowers have very thin stalks whereas the female ones have thicker stalks which are what eventually become the courgette fruit after pollination. Either can be used for eating and I love to enjoy them stuffed with a lovely ricotta simply seasoned and flavoured generously with lemon zest and fried in a light batter. This River Cottage recipe makes for a perfectly crispy batter and uses a herb ricotta which looks nice too, but I love my simple lemon version too much to branch out at this point.
One way to limit how many courgettes you end up harvesting can be to gather the female flowers with their tiny pre-courgettes attached and use them. If using female flowers, the tiny courgettes at this point are just as edible, they’re just really small, but they can be sliced and used to top a pizza or to make a mini version of the grilled courgettes above. Or you can keep them attached for the frying!
I hope that helps give some ideas of how you can shake things up with your courgette glut and have plenty of variety and diverse recipe ideas to see you through the summer – I’d love to know in the comments what you like to do with courgettes too!
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