“First the vegetable plot – tomorrow the world.” It’s that time of year again, when only a daily inspection stops the courgettes from growing into blimps the size of the Hindenburg and using our gardens as launchpads in their bid for global domination.
Yes, your country needs you. You too can do your bit in keeping this menace under control. Arm yourself with a sharp knife, don your stoutest apron and get ready to go over the top. (He wasn’t called Lord Kitchener for nothing, you know.)
Actually, I really like courgettes, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing and that’s when you’ll find me making guerilla raids in the dead of night, hanging anonymous carrier bags full of overgrown summer squash from my neighbours’ door knobs.
If you find yourself in a similar position, you might like to try my recipes for raw courgette, fennel and radish salad, courgette fritters, griddled courgette salad with feta and mint, and spicy fried courgettes here; or my stuffed courgette flowers, roasted Mediterranean vegetables with chorizo and halloumi and lemon courgette cake with lemon drizzle topping here.
This, though, is a very simple Italian courgette salad my sisters-in-law enjoyed in Venice recently and our combined attempt at replicating it. Our courgettes this year are yellow – a mix of yellow and green would look particularly attractive.
Be restrained with the dressing – it shouldn’t overwhelm the delicacy of the courgettes. Cooking them whole before cutting them up stops them going slushy. As Kitchener (should have) said: “Just because we’re British doesn’t mean we have to eat overcooked vegetables.”
Venetian Courgette Salad
6 or 8 small courgettes (about 4″-5″ long)
Light olive oil
Keeping the courgettes whole, steam them until they are tender to the tip of a knife but still slightly al dente – five minutes should be about right, depending on size. Drain on kitchen paper.
Halve them lengthways, then cut each half, lengthways again, into two, three or four batons, depending on size. Blot them again on kitchen paper.
Place in a bowl and toss gently with a very little olive oil and lemon juice to taste, a scrap of finely chopped garlic and a good handful of chopped fresh parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Arrange on a plate and serve as a side salad or as part of a selection of cicchetti, the Venetian version of tapas.
This looks great, but if you just want to strangle them in their cradles you can always send us a bushel of the blossoms. We know what to do with them… Ken
Hah, on yer bike, as they somewhat ungraciously say over here. I too can stuff a courgette flower! What else do you do with them?
I’ll have to remember that one–“Ha! On yer bike!” There’s a Hmong family (Cambodian) that sells both the male and female versions at our local farmers market. We like stuffing them too–goat cheese or tapenade–but here’s another alternative, when you have ripe tomatoes available: http://wp.me/p1t5xh-Y3 Ken
OMG that looks wonderful! I’ll have to try that when the tomatoes are ripe. Thanks. x
Linda, you made me spill my coffee in a fit of guffawing. Excellent concept of the vegetable advance to world domination. Excellent salad too.
Thank you, Conor, and sorry about the coffee.
This looks good but I have only managed to grow one courgette so far (which is one more than I managed last year!) Perhaps the courgette call to action hasn’t reached the capital yet? (Or perhaps I don’t water them enough…)
I’m at a loss as to your courgette famine as they grow like triffids here. They do like a lot of water and they’re partial to a nice bit of manure, although having just done a food hygiene course I’m feeling a bit dubious about the latter.
They are deeply ungrateful – they’ve had some worm tea, what more do they want from me?! Food hygiene course…oooh, are you planning something exciting?
No, just trying not to poison ladies’ groups when I talk to them about my exciting life as a food blogger.