6 August 2014

Grilled courgettes preserved under oil

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed a courgette theme emerging amongst recent postings. My courgette plants are producing fruit faster than I can pick them, and I have now declared an official glut. Once a glut is called, the vegetable concerned needs to be preserved for later consumption. Although courgettes, and marrows, can be a useful ingredient in chutneys and piccalilli, this is my favourite way of preserving courgettes as the main ingredient. It involves grilling them slowly, preferably over a barbecue (which of course adds to the fun), and then preserving them under oil. Courgettes preserved in this way make a great accompaniment to cured meats, or cheeses such as ricotta or burrata.

A barbecue works best for this recipe, as it not only cooks the courgettes but also dries them out, which improves both their flavour and longevity. You can use a barbecue that you have already used to cook something else, as the courgettes will cook more slowly as the barbecue cools down. This helps ensure that enough moisture is driven off. Preserved in this way, courgettes should last for a month or so.


5-6 medium-sized courgettes
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 juniper berries
2 rosemary sprigs
a few black peppercorns
sea salt
approx half litre extra virgin olive oil (use a cheapish supermarket brand, rather than the special bottle you bought on your last holiday in Tuscany)

2 largish sterilised jars (I find picked cucumber jars are a good size)
a barbecue


Carefully slice the courgettes lengthways into slices about 8mm thick. Layer the slices in a colander, with a light sprinkling of sea salt. Leave in a cool place for a couple of hours. This helps leech some water from the courgette slices.

Meanwhile sterilise the jars. I do this by washing them thoroughly, before putting both jars and lids in the oven and heating them to 120C. Leave them at that temperature for about 20 minutes, turn the oven off, and let the glasses cool down gradually in the oven.

Shake any excess water off the courgette slices, then arrange them on a clean grill over the barbecue. As mentioned before, and will mention again because it is important, the aim is as much about drying the courgettes out a bit as it is about cooking them. So if your barbecue is very hot, keep the grill well raised above the coals. When the courgette strips are done, they should have reduced in volume by about half, and have a smooth texture, almost like suede to the touch. You want some grill marks, but if the courgettes are blackened and charred you have probably gone too far.

The courgette strips should be fairly pliable once cooked, and can easily be wound round and packed inside the jars. Add a juniper berry, a sprig of rosemary, a couple of cloves of garlic and about half a dozen peppercorns to each jar for extra flavour.

Fill the jars with extra virgin olive oil, until all the courgettes are covered. A fair amount of oil is used here, so I use a cheap extra virgin oil, like a supermarket own brand. You can normal olive oil or sunflower oil, but extra virgin does add to the flavour. The oil can be reused afterwards for cooking or dressings (by which time it has been infused with lots of scrummy flavours).

Leave the courgettes for about a week or so to infuse before using. If left for too long, they will start to go soggy, so I recommend using them within a month or so. Serve with salami, cheese, or whatever else you fancy.


  1. Perfect timing for this recipe - we had grilled courgettes (called zucchini in our antipodean home), with lemon, basil and mozzarella for dinner tonight.

    1. Sounds delicious! We had courgette risotto tonight, also very tasty.