Courgettes, sometimes called zucchinis, are in season now and there are many ways to eat them.
Let’s start from the beginning, with the flower. If there are no flowers, there is no fruit.
Since courgettes have seeds they are considered to be a fruit. It might be a surprise, but there are ‘male’ and ‘female’ flowers on a courgette plant. If you happen to grow some in your allotment, pay close attention to the shape of the flower. The male flower will have a very straight and slender stem, while the female flower will have a very small, thicker ‘courgette’ looking stem. This bump under the blossom will eventually become a courgette. Only female flowers can produce fruit. That means that the male flower will bloom for a couple of days, then will start to wilt and will finally fall off the plant.
In Italian cuisine the courgette flower is used as a delicate seasonal starter or a garnish, because it is edible. There are many other edible flowers out there, such as nasturtiums (flower of capers), violets, and even dandelions, as well as many others. If you are new to eating such beautiful things, you might not yet be so brave to eat them raw in a salad. For courgette flowers you will need to remove the middle of the flower. Remember, we only want to eat male flowers, because we want the female ones to grow into courgettes.
To prepare the flowers for eating, remove the centre part of the flower where the pollen is stored. It will easily break and then you can use tweezers or shake the flower upside-down to get it out. Now it is time for your creations – the bigger the flower the more filling you can add. Try adding spinach and vegan cheese, a lemon and basil mixture, quinoa, or even pine nuts and raisins. You can pan fry or deep fry the flowers for a couple of minutes for a starter or use as a decoration for your main meal. I would highly recommend using a thicker filling so that it doesn’t escape the flower before it finishes frying. Feel free to coat them in breadcrumbs for a crunchier outside. For smaller flowers you could dip them in batter without stuffing. Use beer batter or sparkling water batter for extra crunchiness.
Here’s a great recipe for batter you could use.
Why choose courgettes?
Courgettes might not seem the most exciting vegetable to eat because they don’t have a lot of flavour, but don’t be too quick to judge. They’re high in potassium and vitamins A, C and K. Interesting fact: cooked courgette has more vitamin A, which supports vision, while raw courgettes tend to have more vitamin C.
Courgettes also have a brilliant texture. For a side dish you can quickly toss courgette sticks in a lightly oiled frying pan with a little bit of mint, then finish with a drizzle of lemon juice and seasoning. This method is ideal for those who like their vegetables ‘al dente’. If you prefer vegetables that melt in the mouth, once again courgette is your go to. Just leave it to simmer in a stew or a soup. Courgettes will also add colour to your dishes. There are a few different varieties, the ones you might easily find in the shops would be green or yellow. Don’t confuse them with marrows, which are green with white stripes.
For the summer season try adding some extra vegetables to your salads, especially if you are tired of tomatoes and cucumbers. You could try adding raw courgette shavings to salads, or grill them in a griddle pan for smokiness. You can use a peeler to make thin, long shavings of courgette.
Courgette fritters is a wonderful recipe. They make a good starter, addition to a salad, a side for curries, or even an extra addition for your cooked breakfast. If you feel adventurous you can try searching for recipes on the internet for courgette and lemon cake, muffins, or even jams and preserved courgettes in tomato sauce. I have shared some of our top courgette recipes below to help you find some inspiration this season. Enjoy your seasonal vegetables!