Courgettes belong to the cucurbit family along with gherkins, cucumbers and, to my surprise, watermelons. In Italy and America they are called zucchini.
They grow very quickly, almost before your eyes, and should be harvested when small to ensure the best flavour.
I know there are lots of allotments overflowing with this lovely vegetable and the growers are wondering what to do with their bounty. They make great salads eaten raw, can be stir-fried, and make a wonderful crunchy pickle.
I like them cooked on a griddle with a little parmesan, hazelnuts and rocket for a light starter, or put into ratatouille at the end of the cooking process so they keep their colour and texture.
Sliced and pan-fried in olive oil with a little thyme, they make a great accompaniment to roast lamb.
It’s a versatile vegetable but do not overcook it as you will lose the colour, flavour and texture.
Here I grate the courgette and mix it into a stiff batter with soft crumbly goat’s cheese before shallow frying and serving with a raw courgette salad.
One shallot finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
Salt and pepper
Pinch bicarbonate of soda
50g and 25g soft goat’s cheese
White balsamic vinegar
1. Cook the shallot and cumin in a little olive oil until the shallot softens. Cool.
2. Top and tail the courgettes – slice one lengthways thinly. Sprinkle with salt. Leave for 10 minutes.
3. Wash off the salt. Arrange on plates.
4. Grate second courgette. Sprinkle with salt. Leave for 10 minutes.
5. Wash away salt. Squeeze out any remaining water using kitchen paper.
6. Mix the egg, flour, and bicarb in a bowl.
7. Add 50g of goat’s cheese and the cooled shallot mix.
8. Mix in the courgette and some ground pepper.
9. Heat a shallow amount of vegetable oil in a pan until you reach 160C.
10. Teaspoon the batter mix carefully into the oil and cook for two minutes on each side . You will have to do this in batches. Keep them warm.
11. Sprinkle the remaining goat’s cheese on to the courgettes you arranged on the plates.
12. Add the leaves and fritters.
13. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and white balsamic before serving.
- Lawrence’s restaurant is Fat Olives at Emsworth: fatolives.co.uk (01243 377914.