About Courgettes


Courgettes are the best loved of all the squashes as they are so versatile. They are quick and easy to cook and are succulent and tender with a delicate, unassuming flavor. Unlike other squashes, they are available all year round. Vegetables taste best when eaten immediately after they have been picked, and this particularly applies to courgettes. They have a long season and are good to grow since the more you cut, the more the plants produce. Left unchecked, they turn into marrows.

Courgette is classified as a summer squash, cucurbita pepo, along with marrows and pattypan squashes. Sometimes called zucchini, courgettes are basically immature marrows. The word is a diminutive of the French courge, meaning marrow, and similarly zucchini means miniature zucca, Italian for gourd. Courgettes have a deep green skin, with firm pale flesh. The seeds and pith found in marrows have yet to form but are visible in more mature courgetes. Conversely, the prized baby courgettes have no suggestion of seeds or pith and the flesh is completely firm.

Buying and Storing : Courgettes should be firm with a glossy healthy looking skin. Avoid any that feel squashy or generally look limp, as they will be dry and not worth using. Choose small courgettes whenever possible and buy in small quantities as needed.

Preparing : The tiny young courgettes need no preparation at all, and if they still have their flowers, so much the better. Other courgettes should be topped and tailed and then prepared according to the recipe, either sliced or slit for stuffing.

Cooking : Baby courgettes need little or no cooking. Steam them whole or just blanch them. Sliced larger courgettes can be steamed or boiled but take care that they do not overcook as they go soggy very quickly. Alternatively, grill, roast or fry them. Try dipping slices in a light batter and then shallow frying in a blend of olive and sunflower oil. To roast, place them in a ovenproof dish, scatter with crushed garlic and a few torn basil leaves and sprinkle with olive oil. Then bake in a very hot oven until tender, turning the slices occasionally.

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