Courgettes Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything


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Three courgettes / zucchini of different colours

It makes sense that courgettes are variously known as zucchini, zuchetti, courgeron, coucouzelle, Italian marrows and baby marrows. Just as a criminal who's shown up in line-ups too many times is forced to use aliases, it is reasonable to suspect that this ubiquitous, long, green vegetable must do the same. In the boonies1 doors are never locked - except during courgette season, where if you don't lock your car doors, someone is liable to toss in a grocery sack full of the things while you're shopping.

Every gardener complains about having too many courgettes, but they always go ahead and plant the same amount the next year. This is possibly because it's a very confidence-building sort of vegetable to grow. It's almost impossible to avoid having a good crop of courgettes.

One hill of courgettes can easily yield 15 kilograms or more. The average courgette in the supermarket is less than half a kilogram, but they have been known to grow up to 5 kilograms each in backyard gardens. At that size, removing the thick, cardboard-like peel becomes a real challenge, but the flesh is still quite edible.

For the person who's never seen one, a courgette looks something like a cucumber in shape and colour, although it usually has a slightly yellowish variegation in the green skin and it always has a typical marrow/squash stem end. The flesh inside is white or pale greenish, its texture is a bit spongy (especially as it ages) and it's mildly flavoured. A core of seeds and pulp runs down the centre.

If faced with an abundant supply of courgettes, here are some ideas for using them up:

  • They can be hidden in bolognaise and other pasta sauces.
  • Boiled with onions and then puréed, courgettes make a fine soup base.
  • Give them to your chickens, they like them - if you happen to be raising chickens, of course.
  • Core, and stuff courgettes with minced beef and seasonings, then bake.
  • Courgette bread is a traditional way to use up the last one or two courgettes of the season.
1Short for boondocks, an informal phrase meaning rough or isolated countryside.

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