Not only is the courgette one of my favourite vegetables, we also have them growing abundantly in our vegetable patch and from June to the middle of October, I use them almost everyday. Each year we discuss how many courgette plants we will actually need as they offer such a bountiful crop and every year we agree that we still need lots. I am able to keep on top of the courgette glut that ensues most of the time but on occasion they are overlooked and suddenly they turn into giants .marrows in fact. I am not a fan of the marrow as such but as long as you remove the seeds from the centre, the flesh can be used splendidly in many dishes. I like to grate it raw into pasta with pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan, or grate it into a Bolognese sauce for the kids. But I think my number one use for the mammoth marrows is to make my Courgette, Basil and Parmesan soup.
The easiest thing in the world for anyone who cooks and has an excess of courgettes to do, is to make a soup and there is nothing very special about it. Except if it is this particular courgette recipe which is really the king of soups. It is so tasty that it never fails to make an impression and it is certainly good enough to have as the starter at any dinner party. This time I made it using the last of my giant courgettes a yellow variety, which has given the soup a distinctive colour. But of course regular, normal sized courgettes can be used. The key to the flavour hit that this soup delivers is the addition of Parmesan, basil and parsley. The soup becomes rich, fragrant and memorable. I urge you to give it a go, you will not be disappointed.
And so for another courgette recipe. Last week I went out for dinner at one of my favourite local Auberges and as a starter I had an incredible Courgette Panna Cotta. It really blew me away as I had not imagined in my wildest culinary dreams that a savoury Panna Cotta could even work! I came home determined to recreate the dish as best I could. I began by infusing the cream with some garlic and thyme. Then I grated some regular courgette and fried it until there was no more liquid leaking out which would have made the Panna Cotta thin and watery. I used Agar Agar as a setting agent instead of gelatin. Agar Agar is a natural product taken from red algae and a vegetarian substitute for gelatin. I have found it to give a gentler, more natural finish when set. I added just a heaped teaspoon to my cream mixture and then returned it to the heat briefly before adding the grated courgette and mixing it gently. I poured it in to glass bowls and put them in the fridge to set. Then I made a punchy tomato sauce which I cooked down in to an almost jam like consistency with plenty of salt and basil. When the Panna Cotta was set, I simply spread a layer of the tomatoes over the top which gave a wonderful contrast in colour for presentation and also a tomato kick to cut through the creaminess. It really is an unusual, stunning starter to a meal. Delicious just spooned up or with bread, it will certainly get people talking!
Naturally I could carry on blogging about fabulous courgette recipes all day long but I will save that for another time. Dont forget to also revisit my Courgette Gratin, a comforting dish which works so well with roasted meats and is great all year long.