* Grated courgette cake
* Courgette pickle
* Courgette and prawn pasta
* Yellow and green courgette salad with ricotta
Courgettes grow well in Ireland and can be eaten in various stages of growth.
The flowers are tasty when stuffed and grilled or deep- fried. Stuffing them with some ricotta cheese and breadcrumbs or with minced lamb flavoured with garlic and mint leaves makes for a tasty snack.
I have recently been working on a project with the Irish Museum of Modern Art where they have grown a large crop of courgettes in the courtyard of the gallery.
They were planted in a raised beds made of straw bales. The bales started to ferment and the crops thrived in the damp heat that they emitted.
The courgettes are then being used to make various pickles and a selection of recipes to feed visitors to the gallery each day.
Lunch will be served under a hay-bale barn for those who book on the museum’s website.
It has been interesting thinking up various uses for one single crop.
Glut crops are common for those with vibrant vegetable gardens and allotments when all at once you have an abundance of produce, far too much to eat before it spoils.
Pickling and preserving are great ways to keep the vegetables for use later in the year, and handing basketfuls to grateful neighbours always works.
The courgette is a variety of cucurbit, which is from the same family as cucumber, squash, and melon.
Courgettes are the most widely-grown vegetable of the squash family.
Their soft skin and tender flesh make them extremely versatile. You do not need to peel courgettes but can eat the dark green or yellow skin.
Neither do you need to cook the flesh of a courgette as the salad below shows.
Raw courgettes have a distinct soft flavour. If you are cooking, I would advise a light frying or grilling with some oil or butter.
When shopping, choose small courgettes that are firm to touch with a glossy, unblemished skin.
In America a courgette is called a zucchini, which threw me when I first worked there.
I was working in a restaurant that served zucchini sticks and was quite disappointed when I realised these were just plain old courgettes from home.
SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND
Cover the raisins in warm water and set aside.
Line a nine-inch round tin and heat your oven to 180 degrees.
Grate the courgette with a medium- sized grater.
Beat the eggs, oil and sugar in a bowl until creamy.
Sieve the flour and raising agents into the bowl.
Drain the raisins and stir them and the courgettes into the mixture.
Fill your lined tin and place into the oven.
Bake for 35 minutes until baked through.
Once cooled, cut the cake through the centre and fill with four large spoons of lemon curd.
To make the curd, add the lemon juice, zest, eggs, sugar and butter into a heat-resistant bowl.
Place the bowl over another larger saucepan that is filled with water.
Bring to a gentle boil, whisking all of the time.
Make sure not to overheat as it will begin to curdle.
Remove the curd from the heat once it has started to thicken and coats the back of a spoon with ease.
Set aside to cool.
Toss the courgettes in the turmeric until they are coated.
Fry the courgette slices in the oil until they have browned. Drain and set aside.
Add the mustard, cumin, fenugreek, chilli and garlic to the vinegar.
Add the vinegar mix to the oil in the pan and cook for ten minutes.
Add in the courgettes and sugar.
Simmer for thirty minutes.
Place into sterlised jars with a tight fitting lid. Allow to cool with the lid off, then seal.
Rest the pickle for six weeks. It will last for up to 10 months once kept well sealed.
QUICK MID-WEEK MEALS
Put the pasta on to boil in lightly salted water and drain when cooked.
Fry up your garlic in some oil, add the chilli as the garlic is about to change colour.
Add your courgette and fry for less than a minute.
The courgette is sliced thin so it will not take long.
Add the prawns to the pan, toss these in with your courgettes. Cook until they have all turned pink.
Toss the pasta into the pan with the courgette and prawns.
Season well then dress with a little drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika.
Put the lemon juice into a bowl and add twice as much olive oil.
Add the mustard powder, lemon zest and season the dressing well.
Toss the courgettes, chilli and spring onion in the dressing.
Toss through the herbs and sprinkle the ricotta on top.
Serve with the bread on the side..
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