From slices to spirals, fritters to fries, here are the reasons we're keen on courgettes
It's a great time to be a courgette. Not just because June to September is when the crop is at its best, but because we're also reaching peak spiralising mania and courgettes are the star of the show.
Known in the US and Italy as 'zucchini', courgettes are part of the same family as melon, squash and less surprisingly, cucumbers. Contrary to popular belief, they're actually not baby marrows but they are close enough that only gardeners really know the difference. It's also a categorical interloper, eaten as a vegetable but technically a fruit. Remember that one for a future pub quiz.
Once upon a time the best way to eat courgette was to slice thinly and sauté it in butter or oil, but these days you'll find it in cake, chips and pizza crust as well as spiralised into every hipster foodie's favourite pretend pasta: courgetti.
It's great as raw ribbons in salad, squished into fritters or griddled in smoky strips on the barbecue. One rule though: never boil it. Unless you're really partial to tasteless green mush.
As well as the usual green variety you can find yellow courgettes, lovely for livening up a plate, and round courgettes (also known as Ronde de Nice squash), which are perfect for stuffing. Then there are the edible courgette flowers – the very delicate tip of the courgette plant that's usually removed – which are much harder to come by but are a dream filled with soft cheese, deep fried and drizzled with honey.
Here are some of our favourite ways to use up your glut.
Hemsley + Hemsley's beef ragu and courgetti
Health food caterers and courgetti queens Hemsley and Hemsley have been spearheading the spiraliser revolution, and this veg-packed take on spag bol is their definitive recipe. Carb fiends might even find themselves converted.
Courgette and blueberry muffins
Courgette's 'subtle' (read: barely-there) flavour makes it ideal for sneaking an extra veg portion into sweet things. These blueberry and zucchini muffins from Cooking Ala Mel are a seriously cheery way to aim for your five-a-day.
Parmesan courgette fries
Dipped in egg, covered in parmesan, baked until crisp, dipped in egg again ... these courgette fries by Kitchen Sanctuary are what every self-respecting courgette hopes to be when it grows up. Normal chips look almost boring by comparison.
Vegan zucchini brownies
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if a food exists in the world, someone somewhere will have tried to put it in a brownie. Not every vegetable is really cut out to be chocolate's new best friend, but luckily the courgette is a worthy contender – and these gloriously gooey vegan brownies from The Live-In Kitchen are the proof.
Raw zucchini ribbon salad
Easy as pie but a million times healthier, raw courgette is a veg revelation. Shave it into thin ribbons, spike it with lemon, vinegar and oil, and let it act as a pretty vehicle for your favourite flavours – like goat's cheese, olives and mint, in this zucchini salad from Gourmande in the Kitchen.
Courgette and feta cheese fritters
Fritter the day away in best possible way with these Turkish-inspired gluten-free courgette and feta snacks from Lavender and Lovage. You'll need to squeeze the courgette as dry as possible, so they also double up as a stress reliever. Kind of.
Carrot, apple and courgette cake
As carrot cake is such an established flavour, it's only fair that courgette gets a bite of the cherry too. There are no cherries in this cake from The Cake Hunter, just to confuse you, but there are apples, carrots, dates, almonds, passion fruit and courgettes. Practically a salad.