C is for courgettes

courgettes Silvester 2
Courgette plant – the flower opens up and the courgette grows from its centre.

Guest blog: I’m told that courgettes are laughably easy to grow. Not so in my experience. I tried, and not a single seed poked its head out of the soil. Still, this is my first year of vegetable growing so maybe I’ll have better luck next year. The point is, that you may end up with a glut of courgettes at this time of the year so, are they good for you and what should you do with them?

By guest blogger, Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food /nutrition. 

OK, so this member of the family that also includes marrow, squash and pumpkin is not a traditional superfood! It is mostly water, which makes it low in calories and also means it is worth drawing out some of the water by salting slices in a colander and leaving them for half an hour or so and then mopping up some of the moisture with kitchen towel. This is particularly so if you are cooking with larger courgettes (if you are growing them, pick them small, where they have more flavour). Aside from the water, courgettes are a reasonable source of vitamin C and are also rich in soluble fibre, which can improve your insulin sensitivity.

A high-quality greengrocers will offer a range of shapes, colours and sizes of courgettes to add interest to your recipes. I used yellow cylindrical courgettes and round green and cream striped courgettes for the ratatouille recipe below.

3C juice (serves one)

A complete vegetable juice – I wouldn’t normally juice courgettes, but this is a way to use them if you have a glut in the garden.

One courgette, sliced
Two carrots, sliced
One cucumber, chopped into chunks
Lump of ginger, sliced
Add to your juicer and drink immediately.

Courgette Deli Salad (serves two)

Two courgettes, sliced
Three (or more) cloves of garlic, sliced
Good quality olive oil (for once, I am not using coconut oil for cooking)
Two cartons of something nice from the deli (feta, olives, roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers…)
Remove water from the courgettes, as described above, then gently fry the garlic in the oil for a couple of minutes till golden. Add the courgettes and fry till golden brown (about 15 minutes). Allow to cool and then add the deli ingredients.

Rainbow ratatouille (serves four)

Ratatouille has long been one of my favourite summer dishes, because it is so versatile. Serve with wild rice, pasta, grated cheese, baked potato/sweet potato – hot, warm or cold. Note, I do not use aubergines purely because I am not keen on them- but feel free to add (use like the courgettes, draining off the water).

Two red onions, chopped
Two/three courgettes – different shapes or colours – chopped and water drained as above
Around 400g French or runner beans, chopped
Three peppers – red, yellow/orange, green – chopped
Around 400g tomatoes – fresh, chopped, or passata or a mixture
Two tbsp tomato puree
Basil leaves, torn
Thyme leaves
Flax seed oil

Fry the onions in coconut oil until tender (about 10 minutes) and then add all the other vegetables. Bring to simmer and cook for around 40 minutes with the thyme. Finish with the torn basil leaves and a slug of flax seed oil.

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