UNLESS YOU’VE been living on another planet for the last year or so, you will be familiar with the ‘Courgette Crisis’ which hit the headlines earlier in January this year.
The plight of the humble baby marrow became something of a ’cause celebre’ amongst healthy eaters, because it suddenly disappeared off the shelves of supermarkets.
The reasons were twofold. One factor for the lack of availability were the awful December rains that hit Southern Spain, decimating the courgette crop in it’s main European growing region.
The other was the huge popularity the vegetable has garnered in the wake of the ‘clean eating’ revolution that has been sweeping across the continent.
Using a handy (and quite expensive) kitchen gadget called a spiralizer, the courgette becomes a healthy eating star in the form of courgetti.
Courgetti,or courgette noodles, are thin strands of courgette that can take the place of noodles or spaghetti.
They need very little cooking and are the carbohydrate-free way to turn dishes into substantial meals (perfect if you’re on a clean diet kick).
You can cut thin slices of courgette into strips by hand, but it’s worth investing in a gadget to speed up the process.
The Spiralizer, also known as the ‘Spiralschneider’, is the classic model, and a monument to retro design.
Spare in detail, 1970s avocado in colour, but highly efficient at what it’s supposed to do.
Three different cutting blades turn out spirals of ‘spaghetti’ and long curls of shaving.
Courgettes, carrots and potatoes all go through easily; the handle makes turning the veg effortless. Be warned, though: the sharp blades and spikes need careful handling and washing.
Now, if you’re not yet ready to invest in a side winding spiralschneider (try saying that when you’ve has a couple of sweet sherries!), or you’re not fond of the colour avocado, I have some excellent news for you.
A well-known chain of Spanish supermarkets that begin with the letter ‘M’, ends with the letter ‘A’ and has a particularly irritating theme tune. Yes, you know the one.
Well, this particularly supermarket now sells, ready spiralized courgetti in the chiller counter, ready for use.
That’s all very good, you may say, but what should you do with your courgetti? Here’s some ideas on how to cook or not cook it:
People first started cooking courgetti by lowering it into boiling salted water, because it was treated like pasta. But this method can make it turn into a soggy mess.
If courgetti doesn’t fill you up, try substituting half your pasta with courgette noodles instead. Cook your spaghetti as normal, then drop the courgette noodles into the pan right at the last minute. Cook for 30 seconds, then strain. This is a great way of lowering your carb intake.
The healthiest way to cook courgetti, because no fat is involved. Simply put the courgette noodles into a sieve and pour over a kettle of boiling water.
This takes the rawness out the noodles without breaking them down too much. Strain well before adding pesto, sauce or toppings.
The most common way of cooking courgetti. Flash fry in a splash of oil for a minute, and no longer. You’re not cooking the courgette, just softening it.
If you cook them for too long, they’ll break up and no longer look like spaghetti.
RAW AND UNCOOKED:
Raw courgette is a versatile ingredient, great for salads with a warm lemony dressing and some crunchy salted pistachios. Or a raw pad thai with peanuts, spiralized carrot and mooli, plus lots of lime juice.
Now here’s a recipe that combines courgetti with the other food giant of clean eating, Avocado. It’s simple, quick, ultra healthy and absolutely delicious.
SMASHED AVOCADO COURGETTI:
Smash 1/2 avocado in a pasta bowl with a fork until smoothish. Season, and add a squeeze lime. Add 1 finely chopped shallot, a handful finely chopped cherry tomatoes, 1 finely chopped red chilli and season. Mix into the avocado.
Fold in spiraized courgette to the mix, so the noodles get coated in the avocado (it makes it wonderfully creamy). Serve straight away.