Mr P doesn't like courgettes. But, they're good for you. So, I try to sneak courgettes into recipes when he's not around. Kind of a 'need to know' basis.
As the weather has been warm we've been eating lots of fresh salads but I'd started to get a bit bored with the 'standard' lettuce, cucumber etc. So, this weekend, I decided to head into the kitchen and experiment with recipes using seasonal vegetables to brighten up our weekend lunch. Having found a lone courgette languishing in the fridge and in desperate need of being used, I grabbed some store cupboard ingredients and herbs from our garden to try and create a tasty salad side dish. So, this is a tried and tested recipe that proved a hit, despite having courgette at the core. This recipe for a Roasted Courgette, Chickpea & Pumpkin Salad balances textures and flavours and uses fresh herbs and standard cupboard ingredients. This recipe is suitable for both vegetarian and vegan diets. It is a great make-ahead option for barbecue or lazy weekend lunches.
What exactly are courgettes?
Courgettes are baby marrows - leave them to grow long enough and you'll soon have a large marrow-like veggie on your hands! More technically, courgettes are a variety of cucurbit - so they're from the same family as cucumbers, squash and melons.
They're a really versatile vegetable and as well as eating them raw, they can be subjected to all forms of cooking - roasting, stir fry, barbecue, griddle, marinated, battered and deep fried. Just don't boil them - you'll be left with a pan of mush.
You'll find lots of types of courgettes. There's the popular and most-recognised green, as well as yellow and white (well, more zebra like).
If you're overseas, you're more likely to hear courgettes referred to as zucchini.
When are courgettes in season?
British-grown courgettes are at their best from June through to September. You can obviously buy them from the supermarket year-round - but it's best to eat seasonally in my opinion.
Are courgettes good for you?
Courgettes deliver a surprising number of health benefits. They are a fine source of potassium which can help maintain normal blood pressure. Courgettes are also a great source of vitamin C and folic acid.
Half a large courgette counts as one of your 5-a-day. They are low in calories, contain no saturated fats or cholesterol. Courgettes are also low FODMAP. So, what's not to love? It's no wonder that I hide them in meals from the unsuspecting Mr P.
How you can grow courgettes at home
Courgettes are easy to grow at home and you don't need an abundance of space - a pot in a warm, sunny spot will suffice. Courgette seeds can be sown indoors or outdoors. For early, first crops, sow indoors from mid to late April. Outdoor crops can be sown later towards the end of May or early June. If you're a novice gardener - or like me you lack confidence in your green fingered capabilities - then invest in small 'plug' plants from garden centres or nurseries. Plant them out in late May or early June - as soon as we're frost-free.
Courgettes are thirsty plants. Logically, as the main constitute of a courgette is water, it makes sense that they need plenty of hydration. A top tip when watering is to try to avoid splashing the leaves - otherwise they could get scorched when the sun is directly shining on them.
Pick your courgette crop when they're young. They'll be at their most tasty - plus, regular harvesting will encourage more fruiting.
What are the health benefits of Pumpkin Seeds?
This recipe also includes Pumpkin Seeds. I love using - and eating, them. They're a staple in my homemade granola and if I'm feeling a bit boujee, then I use them to top a home baked wholemeal loaf. Anyway, pumpkin seeds are surprisingly good for you; high in magnesium, fibre and antioxidants.
Come the Autumn when pumpkins are in season, rather than throwing the seeds away, roast them instead to serve over soups and salads. Our recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds describes the best way to do this as well as potential flavour combinations.
Can I eat thyme flowers?
Thyme flowers are perfectly edible.
They may be tiny but thyme flowers impart the same flavour as the leaves. The flowers are exceptionally pretty and provide an attractive garnish to dishes - so don't throw them away!
Roasted Courgette, Chickpea & Pumpkin Salad Recipe
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients - what you'll need
1 large Courgette
1/2 tin of Chickpeas - drained
1 tbsp of Pumpkin Seeds
1.5 tbsp Olive Oil
0.5 tbsp Garlic Infused Olive Oil
Handful of Fresh Thyme (including flowers)
Handful of Fresh Chives
Sea Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 190C / fan 170C / Gas 5. Cut the courgette into slices about half a centimetre wide. Toss them in a bowl with the garlic olive oil and half a tablespoon of olive oil. Season well.
Spread out on a baking tray. Roast for around 15 minutes (turning halfway) until soft and golden. Meanwhile, finely chop the herbs, reserving the thyme flowers for decoration. Mix the herbs with the remaining olive oil and season to taste.
Once the courgettes are cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, place in a bowl and add the chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and herby oil mix. Stir well and place onto a serving dish. Sprinkle with the reserved thyme flowers and a couple of grinds of black pepper for luck!
What to serve with this Roasted Courgette, Chickpea & Pumpkin Salad?
This is a vegan salad recipe however the flavours do lend themselves to the addition of some crumbled feta cheese or a young goats' cheese.
Serve this Roasted Courgette, Chickpea & Pumpkin Salad with mezze style platters like hummus, pitta breads, Mediterranean grilled chicken or lamb koftas.