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I'm interested in an techniques for preparing courgettes? I cook mine either in a stew or I lightly fry them until brown. Are there any techniques to prepare the vegetable before cooking in either in these styles.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

When they're still young, I grill them --

  • trim ends
  • cut into planks about 1/4" to 3/8" thick (~1cm)
  • toss in olive oil
  • sprinkle with salt
  • grill over direct heat
  • flip when you develop good char marks.
  • pull from the grill once the other side is slightly charred.

As they get older, the seed cavity starts developing -- you can cut the sides off, leaving the middle, but it's just not as sweet.

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Simply grilling with olive oil and salt is by far my favorite; so tasty. –  technophile Dec 15 '10 at 4:34
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To prepare the vegetable before cooking it, it's advisable to "leach" out some of the bitterness. Even if the eggplant is not particularly bitter, if you are using it in a dish in which you want minimal additional moisture, you'll want to prepare it this way.

Slice your eggplant into discs (of desired thickness), and sprinkle salt over all the slices. Leave them to sit for a while (20-30 minutes?) and then use paper towels to absorb the moisture that comes out.

I will typically stack up the eggplant slices with paper towels in between and place something heavy on top.

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Isn't this just an old wives tale, surely salt will just leech out water? –  TFD Dec 14 '10 at 8:37
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For zucchini I would agree. I have never tasted bitterness in a zucchini. But for eggplants, it definitely applies. I even go so far as to squeeze out the liquid. The drier they are the better they brown when frying them. But if you do that you have to slice them thickly. Otherwise you just end up with mush when squeezing them. –  Henrik Söderlund Dec 14 '10 at 8:56
    
Or just buy non-bitter varieties of eggplant. –  technophile Dec 15 '10 at 4:35
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You can do nice things with shredded zucchini. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon, then shred on a grater or using a vegetable shredder.

From there, you can saute with some shredded onion and a little olive oil (adding a tiny bit of curry powder can really jazz this up).

Or you can make a sort of fritter/pancake. I can't tell you the exact technique, but the idea is to mix some shredded zucchini and finely chopped or shredded onion with a little flour and egg binder, then you can fry them up crispy and golden in a pan. For this one, if the zucchini is really juicy you might want to get some of the juice out first (wrap in a tea towel and wring it, or salt it and put it in a colander to drain).

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Depending on their size you can roast and stuff them. We've made a variety of fillings using cooked mushrooms, breadcrumbs, soft cheeses, and herbs (no fixed recipe here, we just try what seems like a good idea).

We usually slice them in half (lengthwise), and carve out the middle. Roast the zuccini on a baking sheet in the over at 400 until it starts to soften up (just a little), and prepare the filling. Add the filling and return to the oven until everything is heated through.

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I'll often do this with the really huge ones. My usual filling is, essentially, meatloaf (though I use part of the carved-out zucchini center in the meatloaf recipe). No need to pre-bake with a meatloaf filling. –  RolandTumble Dec 16 '10 at 19:56
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I fry them in olive oil. They respond really well to high heat, browning up nicely. Usually just eat them with garlic and black pepper, but you can use this as a basis for a pasta topping: fry zuchini with onions in olive oil(brown well), add garlic, add tomatoes, mushrooms, reduce and stew briefly, add herbs (marjoram, basil, ...), and finish with artichoke hearts. Toss it on pasta, add some feta or parmesan.

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How hot do you have your oil? I've tried frying them, but they became soggy, filled with oil and with brown edges. –  BaffledCook Jun 24 '11 at 13:43
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We like to use them in ratatouille; they combine well with things like yellow squash, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc and the traditional ratatouille spices.

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My mother-in-law's method (if you want to eat them as a salad-type side dish):

  1. Boil the whole courgettes for 11 minutes max in lightly salted water.
  2. Once they've cooled, chop them into thick slices.
  3. Put the sliced courgettes in a colander and leave them to drain for 30 min. or so - quite a lot of water comes off and this means that they stay firm.
  4. Just before serving, put them in a dish, season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with white wine vinegar and olive oil.

Serve cold.

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