Salad, starter or side: Yotam Ottolenghi’s courgette recipes

Use up the annual courgette glut in an Italian-style antipasti with tomatoes and ricotta, grilled and smothered in saffron butter, or simply raw in a salad with a zippy lemon dressing

Courgettes seem to go in and out of fashion. One day, they’re on every recipe platform going, the next they disappear again as quietly and as subtly as they appeared. Retro courgette boats were definitely a thing once upon a time, but a few years back they were replaced by spiralised courgette “spaghetti” as a low-carb alternative to pasta. Regardless of where they land on the popularity meter, however, courgettes are always on my mind at this time of year; their versatility gives in to a light saute, a deep char or simply left to absorb whatever’s thrown at them in their truest, raw form.

Grilled courgettes with warm yoghurt and saffron butter (pictured above)
This dish is inspired by kousa b’laban, a Middle Eastern dish of stuffed baby marrow cooked in yoghurt sauce. This simplified version involves serving the warm sauce and grilled courgettes separately, with a quick saffron butter to spoon on top. If you don’t have saffron, a pinch of turmeric will do. Serve as a starter, or as a side for grilled meat or fish.

Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 2-4

30g unsalted butter
¼ tsp saffron threads, roughly crushed
4 baby marrows or 4 small courgettes, tops trimmed slightly, then halved lengthways (600g net weight)
2½ tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp cornflour
300g Greek-style yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
½ tsp dried mint
¾ tsp coriander seeds, toasted and roughly crushed in a mortar
1½ tbsp picked mint leaves
½ lemon

Heat the grill to a high setting. Put the butter and saffron in a small saucepan, melt on a medium heat, then set aside to infuse while you get on with everything else.

Put the marrow or courgettes on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, add two tablespoons of oil, a third of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and toss to combine. Arrange cut side up on the tray, then grill for 15-20 minutes, until nicely charred and softened.

Towards the last 10 minutes of the grilling time, make the sauce. In a large bowl, whisk the cornflour and three tablespoons of water until smooth, then add the yoghurt, garlic, dried mint, remaining half-tablespoon of oil and a half-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to combine, then transfer to a large, nonstick saute pan on a medium heat. Cook, stirring continuously, for about 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly and warmed through. Do not let it boil, or it will split.

Transfer the warm yoghurt sauce to a plate with a lip and top with the courgettes, arranging them grilled side up. Spoon over the saffron butter, then sprinkle with the coriander seeds and mint leaves. Squeeze over the lemon half and serve right away.