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Courgettes as a culinary delicacy – from fruit to flower

The versatile courgette is a mainstay ingredient of summer dishes. They go great with everything, they’re delicious in their own right. But fresh ones are the best. Courgettes are a vegetable that is without a shadow of a doubt ranked highly by a great number of people when it comes to listing favourite summer food. They’re a member of the squash family. Courgette season is in full swing from June to August.

Seasonal ingredients peak: May-August

This is the best period when you can find fresh courgettes in all shapes and sizes in the markets and restaurant menus.

The most common colours are yellow and green and there are countless sizes of courgettes. Smaller ones taste better and their texture has a much less fibery taste than larger courgettes.

In addition to their fantastic taste, courgettes make a powerful antioxidant and are rich in vitamin C and beta-Carotene. The fact that one cup of courgettes contains merely 30 calories just goes to prove that they’re great for summer. That’s why they make a fantastic addition to refreshing summer salads, and you can also use them to make an excellent carpaccio.

It’s important to know that, prior to preparing courgettes, you should remove the excess water. The best way to do that is by adding salt. The salt removes all the bitterness and makes them perfect for preparing all kinds of culinary wonders.

The fact that courgettes can be processed in any way imaginable just goes to show that this is a versatile vegetable indeed. They’re most commonly grilled or wrapped in eggs and bread crumbs and then fried. They can be stuffed, they’re a great addition to soups and stews. Sautéed courgettes with root vegetables are a superb side dish to fish and meat dishes.

Aside from the courgette fruit itself, the courgette flower has an indispensable culinary use as well. This delicate specialty with a short life span is most commonly immersed in a thick mixture made from eggs, milk and spices. Regardless of whether it’s empty or stuffed, it is then deep fried just for a couple of seconds.

Due to their simple preparation, courgettes fall within the category of ingredients that are gladly used in both continental and Mediterranean cuisine. A great deal of restaurants use them to prepare popular specialties that, if it weren’t for this oblong vegetable, just wouldn’t be as delicious. Dubrovnik-based restaurant Nautika combines them with tuna. Their menu offers tuna fillet with a crunchy capers and rosemary crust coupled with courgette spaghetti and garlic cream. Tavern Ma:Toni from Split has a somewhat different rendition of courgettes. They’re sautéed and served with a medium done tuna steak, potatoes and green mungo beans.

At Restaurant & Wine Bar Dubravkin put in Zagreb courgettes are combined with veal loin, horn of plenty, morels and cherry tomatoes , whereas at Le Bistro Esplanade you can pamper your palate by trying out an unusual combination of young courgette flowers stuffed with goat quark, velouté courgette sauce and roasted quinoa.

If you visit northern Croatia and go to restaurant Verglec in Varaždin, you’ll see that courgettes are by far their biggest single source of inspiration when it comes to making summer dishes. They’re used in as much as three seasonal dishes. We’d particularly like to point out courgette rolls with goat cheese, tartufata and aromatic herbs on a bed of Greek salad, as well as the courgette cream soup. Darinka Petak, who’s in charge of this restaurant, revealed that courgettes are one of their favourite ingredients because they’re easy to prepare, and they’re best when grilled for a short period of time. They use grilled courgettes to make their rolls thereby giving the dish a completely new air of freshness and new flavours. Moreover, the Verglec crew likes to combine them with various kinds of cheese. They also tell us courgettes go great with chicken. That’s why they included sautéed chicken with courgettes and yellow risotto in their menu. If you’re a fan of light summer delicacies, the menu and ingredients chosen by the Verglec crew have ensured that their restaurant gets the title of one of the hottest culinary spots in the country. No doubt about it.

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