For this recipe we want courgettes to char and not release their water, so it is important not to salt the courgettes in advance. The strong seasoning (that courgettes love) comes in a vinegar and herb dressing. Don’t skimp on the Maldon salt here, courgettes need to be seasoned properly because of their high water content. Also, if you dress the courgettes while they are still hot or warm, they will absorb the aromatic sweet, sour, and salty dressing and will be delicious eaten straight away or even the next day. You can use any good-quality vinegar you like, and pretty much any combination of soft herbs works. I have tons of oregano, marjoram and chives growing in my garden, so that’s what I use, but a mixture of tarragon, dill and basil also works beautifully. If you do happen to come across nasturtium leaves and flowers, they will add a beautiful peppery taste to the dish.
If your courgettes are small, slice them in two lengthways. Slightly fatter small courgettes can be cut lengthways into quarters, and if your courgettes are massive, cut them in half across and then into quarters lengthways.
Put the cut courgettes into large bowl and drizzle over the oil, then give them a good toss, making sure they are slicked in oil. Do not be tempted to season with salt here! Remember the dressing will season them once they are charred.
I use a plancha set over some glowing embers in my fire pit. But you can use a griddle pan or even a frying pan – either over your barbecue or over the hob. Make sure the plancha is hot and then put the courgettes in cut side down. Don’t be tempted to turn them too quickly. You want the beautiful char to come through. Turn them on the other side and cook some more, until all the sides are well-charred and courgettes feel softer.
Meanwhile, pick the leaves off your herbs. Cut the garlic roughly and put it into a pestle and mortar and add the 1/2 tbsp of Maldon. Remember you are seasoning 700g of courgettes, so this amount of salt is not too much. Now start bashing the garlic with the salt, the flakes will help crush that garlic into a paste in no time. Now add the herbs and bash some more. It’s ok for the herbs to be simply bruised rather than pulverised. Add the vinegar and the honey and give it all a good mix and a taste. At this point you can work with your taste buds and add more vinegar, honey or salt. Keep in mind that the dressing should taste strong, almost on the verge of being over seasoned. Courgettes will release their water and will dilute the dressing, so don’t be shy with the seasoning.
Scrape the dressing into the bowl where you had the oiled courgettes. Then when the courgettes are sufficiently charred and soft, drop them into the bowl with the dressing. Give them a good stir to cover and taste. If it needs more seasoning, do add some more.
Pile the courgettes on to a serving plate and sprinkle over the flowers and leaves of nasturtium, borage or any other pretty edible leaves or flowers.
This dish is fantastic piled into a pita bread and some grilled halloumi or serve alongside some grilled fish or chicken.