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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Top Tips for Cooking Courgettes

Award-winning food expert and celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall answers one of our customer’s most pressing veggie questions – what are the tastiest ways to use up all those home-grown courgettes that are taking over vegetable patches across the country?

Question: I used to love courgettes but I never seem to choose to cook with them any more. Always seems to go a bit soggy. I love growing and cooking veg... but sometimes need new ideas for courgettes as we always seem to have a glut!

Answer: Yes, courgettes can be mushy, and glutty! So my advice is to embrace the glut – and (to a certain extent) the mush. My favourite way to cook courgettes is slowly, with oil and garlic, until they are indeed a tender, rough, slightly bashed up puree. This is delicious as Bruschetta (which is posh for ‘on toast’), and can also be used as the base for a pasta sauce, or a soup. It also freezes brilliantly – which as you know fresh courgettes do not!

Here’s the procedure:

Slice about 700g of small firm courgettes into thin (2-3mm) rounds. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan or wide saucepan over a medium heat. Add a clove or two of finely chopped garlic, and the courgettes. Fry gently, stirring regularly, so they slowly sizzling without browning. As they soften, add a good pinch of salt and twist of black pepper. Continue sizzling and stirring until the courgettes are completely soft, and you can start to break them up with a spatula or wooden spoon. Keep going until all their water has evaporated you have a tender pulpy, almost creamy consistency. Check the seasoning and add.

These ‘bashed’ courgettes can be served as a side dish with meat or fish, or piled onto toast (which has been rubbed with garlic and trickled with best olive oil). You can finish this bruschetta with some crumbled goat’s cheese or shaved hard cheese.

To make a luscious pasta sauce, loosen the pulpy courgettes with a dash of cream or milk and toss with hot penne or your favourite pasta shape. You can sprinkle over a few toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds and serve with grated cheese.

To make a soup, blitz the pulpy courgettes with about 400ml of veg stock, 50g grated parmesan or cheddar, and a dash of cream or a knob of soft butter. Reheat gently and serve with a dash of oil or a swirled spoonful of pesto.