Produce report: October 24
Get out the spiraliser! Raw (or lightly blanched) courgette noodles are back on the menu for spring. A virtuous stand-in for spaghetti, we like ours with meatballs in tomato sauce and heavy parmesan drifts. It’s a step in the right direction, at least. (See Karena and Kasey's fresh, summery recipe below.)
Thankfully, the warming weather has increased courgette supplies and prices are lowering. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to find the flowers for sale near where you live or, even luckier, you may have some out in the garden. FYI: the female flowers have small courgettes still attached (eat those too) and the male flowers, just a long stem. They are divine and impressive stuffed with goat’s cheese or ricotta and parmesan, then dipped into a light batter for frying. See Viva's ricotta and parmesan stuffed courgette flower recipe here. It's photographed at the top of the page.
Before stuffing, carefully open the flowers, remove the stamens and check for any hiding bugs. Don’t be put off by the prep, it may sound tricky but courgette flowers are actually rather fun to cook.
However, if it’s lighter eating you want now, eschew the frying and cheese altogether and add small raw courgette flowers to your salad bowl for tasty, pretty flavour bursts.
Because they are so perishable, the flowers should be eaten on the day of purchase/picking. In contrast, whole courgettes will last for 5-7 days in the vegetable crisper in the fridge. In the same family as cucumber, squash and melon, local courgettes are in season from October until May. They are at their best when 16-20cm long. Courgettes are an excellent source of vitamin C and also contain a good amount of potassium, folate and fibre.
Eggplants are becoming cheaper, with the quality improving as summer approaches. They will become even more plentiful from November. They bruise easily, so handle with care. Store in a cool place for a couple of days or place in the fridge if you want to keep them for a week or so.
Add extra appeal to salads and stir-fries with snow peas and sugar snaps where, in some varieties, the peas will be more developed. Trim off the tips and pull away the tough string that runs along the seam. Cook the whole pods for just a couple of minutes so they are bright green and still crisp. Or slice the snow peas into strips to add to a salad. Alfalfa sprouts are plentiful now too and good to liven up sandwiches or add to the salad bowl.
If you don’t own a spiraliser, you can find peelers in kitchen stores which will cut your courgettes into noodles. Get the recipe