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Rachel Allen: How to cook up a feast from a harvest of home-grown courgettes

Photography by Tony Gavin

If you're a keen veggie grower, then you'll probably have harvested some courgettes by now. They're a great vegetable to grow as the plants love to produce and they're not too fussy, either. Courgettes, when picked young and small, are delicious raw. Use a cheese slicer to shave them into ribbons, then toss them with olive oil, lemon juice, flakes of sea salt and some cracked black pepper. Add a crumbly goat's cheese and you have a perfectly elegant, summery starter.

When courgettes get a bit bigger, they need to be cooked - their almost sponge-like texture loves a bit of butter or olive oil when cooking. Cut a courgette into slices at an angle, toss the slices in olive oil, some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then cook them on a ragingly hot grill pan until beautiful dark charred lines appear on both sides. Serve as an accompaniment to fish and meat, or as a base for any number of delicious salads. You could also just toss the courgette slices in butter on a hot frying pan until they are tender. I love to add rocket and coriander leaves to pan-grilled courgettes, with toasted pine nuts and a tangy feta-style cheese, or serve them with a fillet of pan-fried mackerel, some little black olives and a garlicky, minty yoghurt.

Courgettes love eggs and the frittata recipe, far right, is one of my favourite ways to use the delicious summer vegetable. If you grow your own, you'll have the added benefit of scoring your own courgette flowers. These are big, blousy blossoms that are great torn into a salad, or stuffed with ricotta or goat's cheese and dipped in a batter before being quickly fried.