The word courgette might cause confusion to the average home cook, but it is just another name for a zucchini, so there is no need for alarm. The courgette belongs to the squash family and has a reputation as a versatile vegetable that's easy to work with. You can use courgettes for a number of different dishes, both cooked and raw.
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The courgette has a soft, inner flesh like a cucumber and you can use it for several different raw preparations. You can shave strips off to snack on "as-is" or add it to salads and vegetable platters. You can also cut them into thin matchsticks and add them to your salad that way. It's not necessary to peel a courgette, as the green peel is edible, just as it is with a cucumber. Salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil make good seasoning for raw courgette.
The courgette also works well in a variety of cooked preparations; you just have to be mindful of the soft texture. Roasting in the oven and stir-frying make the most of the courgette texture, but boiling will just turn the whole thing into mush. When roasting, you can scoop out the inner seeds and stuff the courgette with breadcrumbs or quinoa and a combination of chopped vegetables. Tomatoes, onion and beans are common choices. Sometimes, the courgette is sliced into thin circles and dipped in batter before being fried in oil like a potato chip.
Choosing a Courgette
Whether you plan on eating your courgettes raw or using one of the cooking techniques, you will be choosing a raw courgette in the beginning. Look for raw courgettes that are smaller and firm when you press on them. The green skin should look glossy without any noticeable blemishes. If it seems squishy or mushy at all, it's best to keep looking. You'll usually find the best quality courgettes from June until September.
If you don't end up using your courgettes right when you bring them home from the store, they will remain in good condition for up to three days in the crisper of your refrigerator. For best results, place them in a vegetable storage bag by themselves, without any other vegetables or foods. Don't cut them up before storing them, as they will keep for longer if they are in one whole piece.