Last Updated on September 7, 2021
Skip straight to my Recipe for griddled courgettes with lemon and chilli
While we might not have had the best weather for sunbathing this year, there’s been plenty of rain and just enough sun to mean my courgettes are rampant. I have a triffid-like summer squash which fruits with a pretty yellow globe and three normal courgette plants. That’s probably twice as many as a one-person household needs! So, although I grow my veg on a pocket handkerchief sized space, like many of my friends with grown-up gardens, I’m making recipes that use courgettes (zucchini if you are in the USA) in different ways. Courgette and parmesan soup is, of course, a great favourite but, it’s useful to have a handful of side dishes that can be made up in advance. These griddled courgettes are a perfect side dish for a summer BBQ and they work well if you want something seasonal to serve with roast chicken too. Making them with garden-fresh produce elevates the dish almost as much as using fresh peas that you’ve just picked. So, I’d really recommend growing your own if you can.
Luckily, griddled courgettes keep really well in the fridge. Make them at the start of the week and they’ll keep until Friday. And, although I make my recipe with lemon and chilli, you can vary the dressing according to your own preference by leaving out the chilli, adding mint or other herbs or even by adding a handful of chopped roasted nuts just before you serve them.
The dressing will keep even longer in a jar in the fridge and it’s something that you can use to brush onto fish or chicken before you put it on the BBQ.
Courgettes are a great summer vegetable to grow or buy and, they are healthy too. Personally, I prefer to use them fresh or to make them into a pickle or preserve – they have a very high water content so frozen courgettes don’t have great texture (it’s fine to freeze the soup!). If you want to preserve courgettes, that’s perfectly possible, either in oil or in an oil and vinegar mixture. And, they make the base for a great chutney. I may yet end up preserving my glut – but for now, I have just the right amount to keep myself happy and gift a few to my friends and neighbours. Nutritionally, the courgette is a bit of a star if you are trying to watch your weight – it’s very low in calories – 100g will set you back just 17 calories. It has no cholesterol and virtually no fat and has just 2.5g of sugar per 100g. But, you will still get nearly 30% of your daily vitamin C requirement. In short, it’s the sort of vegetable that you can eat in large quantities without having to worry too much.
Of course, this recipe for griddled courgettes is higher in calories because of the dressing. But, I hope you’ll agree that it’s worth it, and so long as you stick with healthy oil, you shouldn’t be harming your diet.
Here’s how to make griddled courgettes.
- Griddle Pan
- 400 g courgette
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 45 ml olive oil
- 1 pinch chilli flakes
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Slice the courgettes into rounds or ovals, about 1/2 cm thick
- Sprinkle with salt and put in a colander to drain while you make the dressing
- Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a glass jar.
- Shake well and taste.
- Adjust the seasoning as necessary
- Rinse the courgette slices and pat dry with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper
- Heat the griddle over a moderate heat
- Brush each of the courgette slices with oil using a pastry brush
- Griddle the courgette slices on both sides till soft, turning to make criss-cross lines if you like! You may need to do this in batches
- As the courgettes are cooked, put them in a casserole
- Once all the courgettes are cooked, dress liberally - I find I need about half the quantity of dressing here
- Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes or cover and put in the fridge to use the next day.
- Serve at room temperature
Now, if you want to grow your own courgettes, they are one of the easiest vegetables. Start them off indoors with seeds in individual pots towards the end of winter. Plant the seedlings out around May, when there’s no danger of a late frost. You may need to transplant into larger pots while they are still indoors if we have a late start to summer. Once you have flowers, you can use them in a number of ways. They can be picked and used in salads, stuffed or even pickled. But, if you want courgettes, you’ll need to make sure that the female flowers are fertilised.
This is a male courgette flower. You can see that the stamen is a single point – and it’s nicely covered in pollen. All you need to do is to get some of that pollen over to the female flower
Here’s a female courgette. It’s worth noting that you don’t always have male and female flowers open at the same time. If it looks as if that’s going to happen, I pick one or two of the male flowers and store them in the fridge (they will keep for a couple of days).
You can transfer pollen using a cotton bud or soft paintbrush. Or just hope that a friendly bee will do the job for you.
The courgettes form quite quickly and you’ll be able to harvest around a couple of weeks later. Just don’t leave them for too long or you’ll get marrows!
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