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Caramelised courgettes

Fri, 10 September, 2021

Coarsely grated courgettes caramelised in butter and olive oil, flavoured with basil and garlic are delicious – quite unlike courgettes!

caramelised courgettes

How to make courgettes taste not like courgettes? Or rather: how to make courgettes taste of SOMETHING? This recipe is the answer.

First things first: this is a recipe for caramelised courgettes, not for an omelette. The omelette serves only as a presentation. Although truthfully, it’s a great combination.

caramelised courgette omelette

What to do with courgettes?

To say courgettes are bland is an understatement. They are the chicken of the plant world: always, every day, thousands of people are looking for new ways of cooking them (and chicken).

No matter how much we salt and squeeze them, they’ll be watery. No matter how fast we flash-fry them, they’ll be limp. Green or yellow, oblong or round, they taste exactly the same.

If you have a garden vegetable plot or an allotment, you know the story. The onions have bolted, the broccoli has gone to seed, the sweetcorn will never ripen and only the courgette plant welcomes you every morning with a new fat gourd topped with a ridiculously cheerful, yellow flower.

Why do we bother planting them? Because they grow well, I guess. In fickle British summers, it is reassuring to have one reliable crop which will bear fruit no matter what.

long cooked grated courgettes

How long should you cook vegetables?

At a glance, this is a recipe for dramatically overcooked vegetables while we know we should cook them as briefly as possible to retain the most nutrients and vitamins.

And yet, cooking sometimes is nutritionally beneficial (I do love the sound of these two words together!) as it makes vegetables easier to digest and the nutrients in them more easily absorbed. Also, the most loss of vitamins and minerals occurs in boiling as those elements leach into the water which is then thrown away.

Cooking develops flavour in vegetables and long cooking concentrates it. Besides, caramelised courgettes taste weirdly unlike courgettes for those not so keen on the gourd, and like courgettes enough for the fans of the vegetable. I have tested the recipe on both parties!

And I’m becoming more and more convinced that the way with courgette is twofold: have it raw or cook it forever.

omelette with caramelised courgettes

Tips for flavoursome courgette

The ‘forever’ method outlined below works very well and contrary to expectations doesn’t end with courgette mush. It also doesn’t take all that ‘forever’: about 20 minutes is all. Just long enough to let the vegetable caramelise beautifully in a heavy, cast iron or otherwise, pan.

The combination of flavours is excellent as well. Make sure you use whole sprigs of basil, with stems chopped up, they will add to the flavour immensely.

The crucial trick is not to add any salt to cooking courgettes as it will unnecessarily make them release a flood of liquid. Without salt they will start to caramelise sooner and take less time altogether.

how to cook caramelised courgettes

So what do we end up with? A sauce, a side dish, a condiment, a topping for stuff? All these and more. It is a little like the Basque or Italian piperade/pepperonata which is spiced, cooked down peppers, and can likewise be used in many ways.

How to serve caramelised courgettes

The recipe comes from New York Times Cooking. It features there as a pasta sauce but I think it’s worth widening its usage. It is lovely on pasta, but just as nice with eggs, as demonstrated here.

It can also serve as a sauce/topping for simple roasted chicken fillet (two epitomes of blandness together, yay!) or pork chops. And last but not least, with or without a scrambled egg folded into it, it’s marvellous on toast: caramelised courgette bruschetta in other words.

More courgette recipes

I mentioned above using courgettes raw so I can’t fail to present a recipe. They are really excellent cut into ribbons in the spelt salad.

Sauteed courgettes would be boring if it wasn’t for the crispy, crunchy, magic breadcrumbs. It’s worth making a huge batch of those to put on all kinds of vegetables and pasta.

And here’s courgette in the supporting role, in anchovy braised vegetables, Provençal style.

caramelised courgettes

Servings: 4-6Time: 35 minutes


  • 1 kg (2 pounds) courgettes
  • a bunch of fresh basil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 30g (2 tbsp.) unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • To serve:
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan


1. Wash, top and tail the courgettes, and coarsely grate them.

grated courgettes

2. Chop the basil with the stems. Press or smash the garlic.

3. Heat the oil and butter in a large cast iron or an ordinary heavy frying pan over medium heat.

4. Add the grated courgettes, basil, garlic and the black pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes until the courgettes release liquid.

5. Take the lid off and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring thoroughly every 5 minutes and scraping off caramelised bits. If the bits are getting burnt and stubborn, splash some water directly on the burnt bits and turn down the heat.

6. Cook for about 20 minutes until the courgettes darken and resemble a very thick sauce or a loose paste. Stir in the maple syrup (that will release any burnt bits), the salt and immediately take it off the heat.

7. To serve it with egg omelette, beat the eggs and salt with a fork in a small bowl. Heat the butter in a small omelette pan and pour in the eggs when foaming. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of courgettes onto the egg and stir gently through the middle.

how to make courgette omelette

8. Push the mix towards the middle from all sides so the runny egg flows underneath the already set. Swiftly fold the omelette in half, slide it onto a plate and top with extra spoonful of courgettes, if desired. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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