Roasted courgette dip, savoury courgette muffins, and the aggressive giving away of vegetables

by | Sep 1, 2023 | Food & recipes, Gardening bore | 3 comments

I dare not venture into the garden during daylight hours. The second I sneak into the veg patch, our elderly neighbour pops up on his side of the fence and yells (in Bulgarian), ‘Do you want some courgettes?’

Each time, I firmly remind him that we have four courgette plants of our own, so the last thing we need right now is more courgettes.

‘But your courgettes are so small,’ he says, holding up a marrow the size of an elephant’s trunk. ‘Here, have this big one. TAKE IT.’ He yells.

‘No thanks,’ I hold firm. ‘I like them smaller.’

It’s become a battle of wills. Sometimes, just to mess with him, I aggressively offer him some of our courgettes.

‘Do you want some cucumbers?’ he says, hopefully.

Spend time in a Bulgarian village at this time of year and everyone you meet will aggressively try to push their vegetables on you. And I really do mean aggressively. Yesterday our neighbour forced us to take a bag of cucumbers that another neighbour had forced onto him. It’s like a never-ending cycle of vegetable-based bullying.

I always refuse the courgettes, no matter how rude it seems. I’ll take as many cucumbers as you can throw at me, but I’m up to my eyeballs in courgettes. So, no. Thanks, but no thanks. Take yo’ marrows elsewhere.

Anyway, to get to the point, I’ve come up with a couple of new courgette recipes this summer that I’m rather proud of. If you’re similarly up to your eyeballs in courgettes – or also have a bossy neighbour with a veg patch, you’ll want to bookmark this post for laters.

Roasted courgette dip (or, if you’re feeling dirty, courgette butter)

Think baba ghanoush, but with courgettes. In fact, you can make this exactly as you would baba ghanoush, by charring the courgettes over a gas flame, peeling off the blackened skin and mashing or blending the insides. I’ve done that before. But I much prefer this easier, less messy method. And if your courgettes are a little on the watery side – as mine are this year – then this method is definitely better.

There are loads of ways you can use this versatile dip. It’s great in sandwiches, as a snack with flatbreads or crackers, or even as the basis of a vegetable puff pastry tart. I wouldn’t kick it out of bed if it turned up as a pasta sauce.

It’s not really a recipe, more of a process. So here goes…

  • Take as many courgettes as you can get your hands on. Which, let’s be honest, isn’t hard at this time of year. You want at least three big ones or five or six medium ones. Any less than that and you’ll end up with a tiny amount of dip. So, the more courgettes, the better. (Since this recipe is a great way to use up not-so-fresh courgettes, you can leave a few lying around until you amass a proper pile.)
  • Slice the courgettes lengthways, then lengthways again (so, into long quarters). Then slice along each quarter to take out the seedy centre (even if it’s not that seedy, it’ll make your dip watery). You’ll be left with long, flat-ish pieces of courgette. Slice these into 2-3cm chunks and dump in a roasting tin.
  • Drizzle the courgettes with oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at 200°C for 30-40 minutes. Basically, until the courgettes are soft and have a nice bit of colour to them.
  • Mash the roasted courgettes roughly with a fork.*
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add a generous couple of tablespoons of tahini, a squeeze of lemon juice, and one or two crushed cloves of garlic, depending on your love of garlic. (When I can’t even be bothered to crush garlic, I just use a teaspoon each of garlic and onion powder, and it’s still good.) Mix thoroughly, stirring in the tahini until you have a baba ghanoush-style dip. Taste and add more salt, pepper and lemon if needed.
  • Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of za’atar.

*If you want a super-smooth, silky dip, you can blend the courgettes and tahini together in a blender or food processor.

Savoury courgette breakfast muffins

This has been my other go-to courgette recipe this summer. Whenever we have the oven on to bake bread, I’ll invariably make either the dip above or these vegan savoury muffins.

These breakfasty delights are subtly cheesy, mustardy, and very moreish. They’re lovely eaten as they are, but even better split open, while they’re still warm, and spread with a little butter (vegan or otherwise). They freeze well, so you can make a big batch and just defrost a few at a time.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. They’re really easy to make – it’s just your basic ‘wet ingredients in one bowl, dry ingredients in the other, then combine’ shindig.

Note: you can switch the proportion of plain and chickpea flour depending on your tastes. If you use 1½ cups chickpea flour and 1 cup plain flour, you’ll end up with a slightly denser, more toothsome muffin. The way I’ve written it below results in a lighter, fluffier muffin.

Makes 12 muffins

For the dry ingredients:

1½ cups plain flour

1 cup chickpea flour

1 tsp baking powder

1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp za’atar

3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or if you’re not vegan and don’t have this to hand, you could use parmesan)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

¼ tsp sweet paprika

¼ tsp chilli flakes

For the wet ingredients:

1½ cups grated courgette (unsqueezed, so it retains its moisture)

1 cup plant milk (soya is ideal, oat is fine)

1 tbsp dijon mustard (or any mustard you like)

1 tsp red wine vinegar (or any vinegar you like)

1 tbsp maple syrup (or liquid sweetener of your choice)

1 tbsp olive oil

Some snipped chives (or any herb you like)

Method

  • In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl or jug, combine the wet ingredients.
  • Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine.
  • Divide the mixture equally between the muffin trays. You should have enough for 12 muffins. (I use silicon muffin trays so I don’t need to line or grease them. If you have a metal muffin tray, I’d lightly grease it with a little oil.)
  • Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes.

Bonus recommendation – Ottolenghi’s courgette, chickpea and herb pancakes

Forget courgette fritters. This summer I’ve been all about these chickpea batter pancakes by Ottolenghi, which I’ve been making regularly since the courgettes started cropping. They’re egg-free, naturally vegan, and, thanks to the chickpea batter, very satisfying and filling. Normally I nope out of recipes that require grating, salting and squeezing courgettes, but these pancakes are worth it.

Find the recipe here, or you can see the man himself make these on the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen YouTube channel, which is where I first saw the recipe.

Are you inundated with courgettes? Are you an aggressive vegetable pusher? Will you be making any of these recipes? Do tell.

3 Comments

  1. Katt

    I suppose now that I’m here in a Bulgarian village on my own I’ll have to get a taste for vegetable s. I’ve moved here at exactly the wrong time, too late to plant seeds or make a go at the fruit trees in the garden because the insects have beaten me to it . I have managed to order new double glazed windows for the house and two doors a regular sized one and a much larger one leading into the basement. it’s very early days but wish me luck.

    Reply
    • Auntie Bulgaria

      Oh yes, Katt, you’ll definitely have to develop a taste for fresh and pickled vegetables. It’s not too late to try a few seeds — I’ve just planted some chard and nasturtiums for autumn leaves, and spring green cabbages for (obviously) spring. And I’m also going to try growing some winter lettuce and land cress in the greenhouse this winter. Probably won’t work but if it does, it’ll be great to enjoy some fresh salads over the winter. Anyway, very best of luck with village life x

      Reply
      • Katt

        Thank you Auntie, I’ve been very lazy this last week and today I was hoping to buy a metal container to burn the garden waste in, so at least I’d be able to ” see the wood from the trees” with no luck. I’m off for a coffee with my neighbour at 3 pm so I’ll show her my Google translate to see if she can help me. Thesoomer the rubbish is burnt the sooner I’ll be able to tackle the next job inmyvery over grown garden.

        Reply

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