Cracking courgettes

“Choose a firm, glossy and unblemished courgette then grate them, fry them, bake them, grill them or stuff them.”

We turn to Bath-based Simi Rezai, of Simi’s Kitchen, for the latest installment in her series of simple, seasonal recipes using produce that can be grown at home, sourced locally or foraged. This time, the humble courgette takes centre stage…

Ah the courgette, the spotty teenager of the vegetable world. Not cool enough to be a cucumber and too skinny to be a melon, yet being part of the same cucurtbit family means it’s always invited to the party. It just never gets up to dance. Probably because we Brits have embarrassingly stripped it of its cooler state-side tag. If you were called a zucchini, you’d get up to dance.

But here at Crumbs, we LOVE the humble courgette. They’re so versatile, cheap and best of all, they don’t need peeling. What’s not to love? Choose a firm, glossy and unblemished courgette then grate them, fry them, bake them, grill them or stuff them. Their delicate subtle flavour pair perfectly with tangy goat’s cheese or fiery chilli and they soak up lemon juice like a sponge. 

Bath-based Simi Rezai, of Simi’s Kitchen shares our veggie love and we’re in good foodie company because the key to Simi’s cooking, which is often inspired by her Iranian heritage, is minimum washing up and waste and maximum flavour and nutrition.

Here she shares some of her favourite courgette recipes – a Tunisian dip and a chunky vegetarian and vegan-friendly soup or curry.

Ajlouk (Tunisian courgette dip)

600g courgetts, cut up
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp harissa
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground coriander 

1. Put courgettes in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook them until they tender. Drain and whilst in colander, coarsely mash with a fork.

2. Combine lemon juice, harissa, garlic, olive oil, salt and ground coriander in a bowl then add it to the drained courgettes.  Taste for seasoning and adjust the level of each ingredient to your taste then serve with pitta or crudités.

Courgette soup/curry

2 large onions
1 tbsp oil of your choice
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp each of cumin and caraway seeds and chilli flakes
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp powdered coriander powder and turmeric
4 medium courgettes, sliced in rounds
500ml vegetable or chicken stock (for soup only)

1. Slice the onions and fry them in a mix of oil and butter on a medium to high heat to start browning. Mix in the salt, pepper, tomato puree, cumin, carraway, chilli flakes, garlic and ginger and let them fry a little in the oil. Mix everything in with the onions and you should have a nicely coloured fragrant mix. Add the coriander power and turmeric and then throw in the courgettes and coat in this paste.

To make soup: turn up the heat and let the courgette fry a bit before adding the stock, then mix and put a lid on. Cook on medium for 20 minutes and check to see if the vegetables have softened. Take off the heat and using a hand blender take your time to blend it in the pan. This makes for a thick soup so if you prefer it thinner add more stock or water and adjust seasoning accordingly. This is also nice with yoghurt swirled on top or a drizzle of good peppery olive oil and fresh bread.

To make the curry: put a lid on and leave the vegetables on a low heat, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom. When it is ready there will be a little bit of oil pooling around the edges of the pan. Taste it to make sure it is seasoned properly then serve with natural yoghurt and flat bread.

Both these dishes taste better then next day and can be served hot, warm or cold. Make a big batch with your glut and have a courgette party!