One of the vegetables I have great success in raising is the courgette. This year I have a couple of varieties on the go: Tristar and Jemmer. My single Tristar plant has produced 6 courgettes already and there’s a few more to come. It is in a grow-bag on the floor of my greenhouse. Jemmer is a yellow variety; the first courgettes are just forming.
To enjoy the delicate, slightly earthy, flavour of my “homegrown” courgettes, I cook them very simply: either sliced and gently fried in sunflower oil, or as bigger chunks, lightly seasoned and roasted in the oven. The slices only take a few minutes on each side, just cooked until lightly golden round the edge.
To liven things up a wee bit, I make a herb or spice butter which I allow to melt over the cooked vegetable just before serving. At the moment, the chive bush in the garden is a combination of soft, juicy stems and pretty flower balls, and is the obvious choice for flavoured butter these past couple of weeks.
I make up a small batch at a time which will keep, well wrapped, in the fridge for 2-3 weeks or can be frozen for up to 6 months. Use half a pack of lightly salted, soft butter with 2-3 tablespoons of freshly chopped chives – snip the stalks into small pieces using kitchen scissors to avoid bruising the stems.
Beat the butter well to start with and then mix in the chives. Pile onto a small square of baking parchment and chill until firm enough to roll.
Pop the parchment square on a small sheet of cling film, and wrap the paper round the butter to make rough tube. Continue rolling until you have made a cylinder of butter, to the thickness you prefer. Wrap tightly in the cling film and chill until required.
Chive butter is lovely melted over grilled salmon, pan-fried chicken or tossed into freshly cooked seafood and pasta. Don’t forget the flowers: gently pull the flower heads apart and scatter the delicate lilac star-shaped petals over salads, pasta or your finished dish for a subtle oniony flavour.