How to and why: COURGETTES

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

WHY

Courgettes are gorgeous green batons which contain plenty of nutrition. They are abundant in the summer and very inexpensive. They are such a dramatic plant and contain plenty of vitamin C, anti-oxidants, fibre and water (another way to add to your hydration at this time of year). They are also very versatile. Remember, you can even eat the flowers! They're not a vegetable at all, but technically a fruit because of their seeds.


HOW TO

So don't think the humble courgette is boring - it isn't! Here are a few ideas of how to use the nutrition rich courgette or zucchini. And read to the bottom to find my courgette, lime and pistachio cake - its a winner!



RAW - grated or spiralized in salads they are light, crisp and fresh


COOKED

  • fry them in slices with a little butter

  • roast in batons with some olive oil and seasoning

  • add them chopped to stews, pasta sauces, casserole, mince or in a stir fry with rice and lentils.

  • easily grilled, brushed with a little oil.

  • cube and cook slowly with aubergine, tomatoes, onions, tomato puree and herbs to make a rich ratatouille.

  • coat the flowers in a light batter (same as for a pancake) and deep fry, you can also do the same for batons of courgette - tempura style.

  • larger courgettes or squash, you can hollow out and stuff with stir-fried spicy vegetables or mince (beef or spicy lamb) cooked with onions and tomatoes - then bake in the oven until the courgette / squash is softened.

  • frittata style, fried in an oven proof frying pan and then cooked with some beaten eggs, spring onions and goats cheese

  • BBQ thick, diagonally sliced, brushed with oil and lemon juice

  • add thinly sliced and semi cooked(fried) to a lemony risotto with some grated parmesan on top

  • in chocolate cake they make a wonderful moist addition. Add about the same courgette to flour and an extra egg.

And here's my recipe for Courgette and Pistachio Cake!

This recipe combines three winning flavours and textures - courgettes, lime and pistachio. I've used Xylitol instead of sugar in the cake, to improve the nutritional value, but sometimes cake just isn't cake if it's not made to be just a little sweet and indulgent - so the topping is a rich and sweet cream cheese zesty extravagance.


This recipe makes two 8" cakes and sufficient icing for the middle and top.


WHAT YOU NEED:

Cake

250g Xylitol (plant-based sugar substitute) or 200g caster sugar

200g sunflower oil

4 large free range eggs

200g grated courgettes (as much skin as you can)

50g crushed pistachios

zest of 2 limes

225g self-raising flour

1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda


Icing and filling

175 mascarpone cheese

300g icing sugar

juice of 1.5 limes

zest of one lime (to decorate)

30g crushed pistachios (to decorate)



WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180degrees

  2. Grease and line the base of two 8" sandwich tins

  3. Grate your courgettes and squeeze well through a colander into a bowl. Leave to drain as much as possible.

  4. In a mixer or with a rotary whisk, beat the eggs one at a time with the oil and Xylitol or sugar adding one dessert spoon of flour with each egg.

  5. Fold in the courgettes, flour, bicarb', and lime zest. (The mixture will be quite runny!)

  6. Pour evenly into the two sandwich tins and bake in the centre of the over for approximately 40 mins (check after 30 if you have a fan oven), until browned and the centre is cooked - skewer test should come out perfectly clean.

  7. Leave to cool thoroughly. If necessary slice off any dome from the cakes, to give a flatter top and bottom.

  8. Mix all the icing ingredients together and sandwich and top the cake. The consistency should be spreadable but not runny (or it will just fall off the top!). If necessary, add some more icing sugar to stiffen it up.

  9. Finally, add the lime zest and crushed pistachios to decorate. Keep in a cool room or refrigerate until just needed (to keep the cheese from running away...)

Perfect - enjoy with a nice cup of tea and a good natter with a friend!



MORE in the How to and why series:

Beetroot

Berries

Brassicas

Courgettes

The rainbow

Spinach


Read more "How to and why?"



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