Ah courgettes, the taste of summer. We lucky gardeners can easily get our hands on all manner of varieties not available in the shops – they can be bright yellow, chalky green, round or even shaped like spaceships.
They’re all easy to grow and tasty – the only reason you can’t find most of these in the shops is that they are too delicate to be driven round the country by lorry – hardly a problem for us gardeners.
So, my watering technique seems to be working. I’m now totally over-run with veg – especially courgettes – which is undoubtedly a familiar problem to just about anyone who’s ever grown them. Not as bad as last year, when I made the fateful error of going to France for a week in late August and came back to marrow-geddon*. If there’s one vegetable prone to giving you a glut, it’s these bad boys.
One of the biggest lessons I learnt last year on the allotment was to not get too carried away in April. By that I mean don’t sow all your seeds one sunny weekend and then find a huge glut of certain crops in July followed by steadily diminishing returns through the summer. Successional sowing – sowing small quantities more frequently – is the answer.
This year I was slightly wiser, but have still managed to get a bit over-run with courgettes. Luckily I have a lovely neighbour who takes great delight in swapping courgettes for (a day or two later) courgette cake! Light, sweet and moist; not to mention full of walnuts, it is divine with blackberries and créme fraîche as a sinful breakfast.
They’re also delicious sliced thinly, smeared with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano, salt and pepper then grilled. However, this only really works well with young-ish courgettes. If they’re starting to look a bit marrow-like then there’s only one thing for it. Soup.
1 small onion / 2 shallots
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large courgettes / small marrows
1 clove garlic, crushed
small handful chopped oregano and thyme
chicken or veg stock – about a litre
cream to serve (optional)
Chop the courgettes into smallish (1.5cm) chunks and dice the onions. Fry them gently together in olive oil (add a little extra if they start to stick) for around 5 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs and fry for a couple more minutes, until the vegetables are softened and just beginning to colour.
Then tip over enough stock to cover the vegetables and simmer gently for five minutes. Tip the mixture into a blender and whizz until smooth. Serve warm with a swirl of cream.
* Courgettes and marrows are really just the same thing. Leave a courgette on the plant and it will turn into a marrow.