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Recipe: Tender Courgettes in Saffron and Basil Butter

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Treat courgettes with butter, say Jane Scotter and Harry Astley…

It is hard to believe that 40 years ago, courgettes were hardly ever grown in Britain. Our vegetable gardens were stuffed with marrows and unless you had travelled abroad, you were unlikely to have ever eaten a courgette. We have visionary vegetable gardener Peter Barfoot from Hampshire to thank for their introduction – and we haven’t looked back since.

courgette recipe Serves two


  • 4 courgettes (preferably with flowers attached)
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of saffron strands
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Handful of basil leaves
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • Sea salt and black pepper


  1. When selecting courgettes, make sure you choose the freshest ou can find, which will help you avoid the metallic flavour that can develop when they are stored. If you can find them, courgettes with their flowers still attached are great for this recipe.
  2. Finely shred the flowers and add them at the same time as the basil, allowing them to wilt just a little.
  3. Slice the courgettes lengthways into manageable strips about 8mm thick.
  4. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Once the butter begins to bubble and foam, lay the courgette strips in the pan and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until they start to brown. Turn them over, season and continue to cook for a minute.
  5. Add the saffron and water and cook for a couple of minutes longer, until the butter has taken on the golden colour of the saffron.
  6. Tear in the basil leaves, pour the lemon juice over the top and serve immediately with rice.

Recipe extracted from Fern Verrow: Recipes from the Farm Kitchen by Harry Astley and Jane Scotter (Quadrille, £25)