Eating seasonally: Get creative with courgettes
The courgette may regularly feature on our menus and in our allotments, but there is still something distinctly mediterranean about this delicate vegetable.
Which is hardly surprising given it was developed in Italy. Indeed, the courgette was only introduced to Britain in the mid twentieth century through the British born, but well travelled, food writer, Elizabeth David. However, historians claim that the courgette originated from Central and South America, where people have been eating it for thousands of years. It only made its way to the mediterranean around 500 years ago, thanks to Columbus. Looking quite different to the modern day variety, the Italians named it zucchino, meaning ‘small squash’, before cultivating it into the courgette we know and love today. Now courgettes are grown up and down the British Isles, including Yorkshire, and we stock them when they’re in season - over summer. Sourced from Sheffield Organic Growers, just four miles away from the store, our courgettes are always fresh as they’re delivered on the same day they’re picked. Unlike in the supermarkets, you’ll find a range of different shapes and sizes; from straight and lean to oval and fat, each one is unique. And, along with the popular fully green courgette, we have yellow, white, aND stripy. When it comes to cooking, the courgette is great in a ratatouille or vegetarian lasagne, but we often find that a rich tomato sauce can be a bit too heavy for the delicate flavours. Instead we prefer to take a simple approach and we especially like to serve courgette raw. Using a vegetable peeler we make ribbons of yellow and green courgettes and serve them as a salad with a simple lemon and mint dressing and crumbles of Yellison’s goats’ cheese. It’s such a pretty dish and tastes so fresh and summery, perfect as a side to some juicy lamb steaks.Another great recipe idea comes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. He cooks courgette slices with a little oil, garlic and seasoning over a low heat until they’ve broken down and turned rich and oily. This is delicious spread on hot toast as a light lunch and we sometimes add a grating of Ewe’s Natural Rind Cheese, a little lemon zest or basil leaves. And because courgettes are in season now, we know that we’re eating them at their absolute best. Which is another reason why we’re handling them, and many other seasonal vegetables, with care in the kitchen. To find out what else is eating well this month, pop into Mr Pickles’ where you’ll find lots of seasonal produce including beetroot, French beans and fennel.