Get inventive in the kitchen with courgettes

Seasonal Supper: When in need of inspiration around vegetables I turn to Antonio Carluccio

Courgettes make a wonderful soup and are great raw in a summer salad with goat’s curd

Courgettes make a wonderful soup and are great raw in a summer salad with goat’s curd

 

As a self-taught chef, food writers and chefs had a profound impact on me as I learned my trade. One particularly famous cook, Antonio Carluccio, made his edible mark on me when I was in my early 20s. I received a copy of his cook book Vegetables (2000) from a close friend.

It is still a book I turn to a lot when in need of inspiration around vegetables, particularly around events such as Christmas and Easter when we have vegetarians or people who love vegetables in the house. This week, a lot of courgettes came into us from one of the local farms.

I wanted to try something different at home. In the restaurant, I always take a flamethrower to them and then season with extra virgin rapeseed oil, sea salt and seaweed vinegar. Their blistered acrid flesh beautifully absorbs the crusty salt and saline vinegar.

Pleasure

I cannot imagine my kids enjoying this culinary pleasure, even though they do like occasionally playing with the flamethrower (with supervision of course!) Courgettes have a funny history. They are part of the squash family and can grow up to metre in length (when they are called marrows).

They seem to have only emerged in their modern form, as small cylindrical vegetables called zucchini in the 19th century in Italy and get their first mention in print in Milan 1901. The first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s. Brought over by Italian immigrants, they were first grown in California.

Courgettes make a wonderful soup and are great raw in a summer salad with goat’s curd. Carluccio recommends making a courgette gratin, layering them all up with cheese and tomato sauce and baking in the oven.

If you’re lucky to get ones with the flowers on, you can make fritters or stuff them (again with goat’s curd! Larry from the Galway goat farm will sort you out). Probably the simplest is to gently boil them in salted water until tender and then season with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. As always, treat your vegetable with respect and they will love you back. 

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