Courgette Glut!


Judging by the generosity of friends lately, courgettes (zucchini) have done rather well in this summer of heat and rain.  I’ve been given fat green, almost marrow ones; slim dark mini ones; acid bright yellow ones and squat round striped ones. Now I’m not one to turn down free produce, ever, but there’s a limit to how much ratatouille a girl can eat so I’ve been searching out alternative recipes to make the most of this August bounty.

First up is the ever-reliable Lime & Courgette Cake, courtesy of Nigella Lawson. Found in her How to be a Domestic Goddess book, this is a recipe I renamed Lime Surprise cake, inviting tasters (especially children) to guess the surprise ingredient. Very few ever did, and all loved the cake, proving to me yet again that sometimes you can smuggle greens into people who might otherwise avoid them…

Lime Surprise Cake


  • 250g courgettes (2-3)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225g self raising flour
  • ½  tsp bicarbonate soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder


lime curd, if shop bought, add juice of a lime to sharpen. If you can’t get lime curd, use lemon and add the juice of lime.


  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 180C/ GM4. Grease and line 21cm cake tin x 2.

Wipe courgettes but don’t peel them. Coarsely grate them and put into a sieve over the sink to allow excess water to drain.

Whisk eggs, oil & sugar together until creamy. Sieve in the flour, bicarb & baking powder and continue to beat until well combined. Fold in the grated courgettes.  Pour mixture into the cake tins and bake for 30 minutes until slightly browned and firm to touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 -10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack.

To make the icing – beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add the icing sugar, sieved, and finally the lime juice to taste.

Assemble cake – put one half on a plate, spread the top with lime curd. Put on the top cake and cover with the cream cheese icing. Put in the fridge to firm up before serving.

Note: when unable to get or be bothered to make lime curd, I’ve made this cake in one tin (leave for 45 to 50 mins to bake) and covered it with the cream cheese icing and the zest of a lime – bit like a carrot cake.

Last year I was given buckets of green tomatoes, which I turned into chutney and also jars of pickles. I thought I’d try the same principle with the courgettes. The River Cottage has a fab recipe called Glutney – designed to be adjusted to whatever ingredient you have the most of.

Crunchy Courgette Pickles

  • 500g courgettes
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp non-iodised salt

For the pickling liquid

  • 500ml white vinegar
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • ½  tsp juniper berries
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ½  tsp dried chilli
  • 1 finely chopped gariic clove
  • 1 dsp chopped dill
  • 1 dsp chopped thyme

Thinly slice the courgettes using a sharp knife, mandolin or slicing blade on a food processor. Put in a bowl with the shallots and sprinkle over the salt. Cover with ice-cold water, stir to dissolve the salt and leave for 1 hr. Drain the courgettes thoroughly and pat dry using kitchen paper or tea towels. If they stay too wet, the water will dilute the pickling solution.

Meanwhile, put the pickling ingredients into a pan and bring to a simmer. Bubble for 3 mins, making sure the sugar has dissolved, then leave to cool until warm but not hot. Add the courgettes and stir. Scoop the mixture into 2 x 500ml sterilised jars. Seal and leave for a few days in the fridge. Kept chilled, these will keep for a couple of months. Rather nice on a burger….