Cunning Courgette Ideas

If you grow your own vegetables, or subscribe to a weekly vegetable box, you’ll know all about seasonal gluts. It’s a question that comes up a lot on the allotment and zero waste forums I belong to. The challenge when you grow vegetables or buy a locally sourced vegetable delivery is that it’s difficult to stagger the harvest of some vegetables, so you end up with a lot of one type. At the moment, we are swimming in French beans and courgettes.

Today I’m going to focus on courgettes, as when they get going, boy do they produce a haul! And if they’re not picked regularly, they become giant marrows, which tend to taste watery and nothingy (in my opinion). So, here are a few ideas for your courgette cornupcopia.

The brilliant thing about courgettes is that to be honest, when they’re cooked in something, they’re pretty tasteless. Why is that good? Because you can use them as a cunning way to get vegetables into your veggie-hating kids (or husband). They also add moisture when they’re added into baked dishes – perfect for this chocolate courgette cake shown above. There are any number of recipes for chocolate courgette cake on the internet, so I’ll let you pick one that suits you best. All I can say is that it tastes delicious and freezes brilliantly.

There are plenty of other ways of subversively adding courgettes to dishes – grate into spaghetti bolognese and other pasta dishes, grate and squeeze out the water and add to cake or bread recipes (courgette lemon drizzle cake is ace) or simply put into quiches or stews. I tried courgette and cheese muffins a couple of years ago and they worked a treat.

If you’re happy for the courgettes to take more of a starring role, try courgette and feta or courgette and sweetcorn fritters – Nigella has a fabulous recipe here. Other ideas include courgette and hazelnut burgers, courgette and tomato soup, ratatouille, mushroom and courgette curry. One of my favourite ways to eat courgettes is to oven roast them with peppers, sweet potato, onions, garlic and tomatoes and add them to couscous.

They’ll freeze brilliantly when combined with tomatoes and other veggies as a ratatouille and are perfect for adding to winter stews. If all else fails, and you end up with super marrows (I planted eight courgettes last year so it was a bit of a challenge dealing with them) – pigs love them. We have a lady in our village who keeps pigs and was happy to take any amount of giant marrows off my hands. Happy porkers…

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Make your own: Dishwasher Tablets

I’m such a sucker for zero waste recipes, and I’ve tried a huge amount in my time – some of them were total flops. So I promise you, I will only ever post recipes that work (for me at least). I came across this formula for dishwasher tablets recently, and as I had all the ingredients here, I thought I’d give them a go. They worked perfectly. You can buy cheaper – Wilko sell a cardboard box of 30 dishwasher tablets for £1. But, these really aren’t expensive and it’s very satisfying to make your own. I buy my bicarb and citric acid in cardboard boxes, so zero waste for those ingredients. Here’s how to do it. You’ll need:

  • 1 Cup of Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Citric Acid
  • 1 Tablespoon Dishwashing Liquid

Add the bicarbonate of soda and the citric acid to a large mixing bowl and stir together. Pour in the washing up liquid and mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly. I used my hands, but you could whisk it if you preferred.

Then, push lumps of the mixture into small silicone ice moulds. They will froth up a bit – this is normal (see image below). Just wait ten minutes or so and level them off with a knife. I put the excess into an empty mould space. This recipe made 24 tablets.

Leave them to harden for about four hours, or overnight. Then gently ease them out of the mould and store in an airtight jar. Place one tablet in your dishwasher compartment and you’re good to go!

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