I am running out of ideas for courgettes. The two courgette plants on my father's allotment have proved so prolific this year that I cannot keep up. Braised courgettes, roasted courgettes, pasta with courgette sauce, courgette ribbons, courgette and feta fritters, simple summer stew, courgette cake. What else can do? Where else can I take these green and yellow squashes? Last night I braised them, but with a vaguely Italian sweet-sour twist, hence the agrodolce in the name. And my use of zucchini when I am resolutely of the courgette persuasion.
We had them with fish, but I can see these working a treat with chicken. Cut the courgettes into ribbons rather than rounds and crumble over some feta and toasted pine nuts just before serving and you've a glorious warm salad.
Our home-grown courgettes vary enormously in size, but I would recommend three average sized courgettes, weighing a total of 500g or a pound, for four people as a vegetable accompaniment. Right, let's do this.
- 3 medium sized shallots or one banana shallot, sliced in half moons
- 3 small cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
- Oil and butter
- Splash of Marsala or Madeira
- 3 average sized courgettes, if such a thing exists, sliced in rounds ½cm (¼ inch) thick
- Juice and zest of half a lemon
- 1 to 1½tspn sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh mint
Heat a generous splodge of oil and nut of butter in a large lidded frying pan or sauteuse. When it starts to foam, toss in the shallots and garlic and cook until they begin to colour, say five minutes. Splash in the Marsala or Madeira and allow the alcohol to bubble off for thirty seconds or a minute.
Tip in the courgettes and toss around the pan to coat them in the fatty shallots.
When the courgettes are coated, squeeze in the lemon juice, add the zest, sprinkle over the sugar, season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Place the lid on the pan and reduce the flame to medium-slow and allow the courgettes to cook until very tender, but not mushy, which took about 45 minutes last night.
When the courgettes appeared cooked, I added a generous sprinkling of chopped fresh mint and let that wilt for a few moments before serving. If you wanted to add a shaving of parmigiano, I don't think I'd object.