Children and courgettes
In my experience, children find the texture of courgettes hard to enjoy… they are classified as ‘slimy veg’ by many children I have worked with. I have found that raw and/or grated courgette can sometimes be eaten more happily than cooked, large chunks. I have also found that yellow (banana-like) courgettes are slightly milder, and SO cheerful and sunny that children will try them more willingly.
Growing courgettes is almost guaranteed to be a success. You can harvest them when they are very small - the size of a little cucumber - and eat them raw. Thin little 5p pieces are easy to bite into and to make smiles out of 😊 I only grow yellow courgettes because we all prefer them and for some reason they aren’t commonly available in England, but the seeds are easy to buy, and green courgettes are just as easy to grow if they are more your family's cup of tea.
Singing about courgettes
Similar to cucumbers in appearance, both have a lot of water in them, which is what makes them firm. Our song (to the tune of Frère Jacques, each line repeated) encourages children to stay hydrated by eating them both:
“If you’re thirsty (if you’re thirsty)
There’s no doubt (there’s no doubt)
Watery cucumber (watery courgette)
Helps you out (helps you out)!”
Playing with courgettes
A fun game is doing a blindfold test and seeing if your children can taste which is courgette and which is cucumber (give them one thin round slice to lick/bite), and feel which is which? Or can they taste the difference between the yellow and green ones while blindfolded?
Cooking with courgettes
The following recipes and tips are not about hiding courgettes, but making them ‘accessible’ in a way your children will enjoy…
- As a pizza topping: I routinely provide bowls of veg of different colours of the rainbow for children to top their pizzas with. Green/yellow courgette is grated into a bowl with carrot and cheddar cheese- as they can’t resist the cheese, the rest goes on too 😉 And they have two or three of their rainbow colours ticked off! Or slice the courgette into thin rounds that will cook on the pizza once it goes into the oven and make fun circle shapes all over the pizza.
- In mashed potato: when making mashed potatoes, add less milk than you might normally, add some extra cream cheese/cheddar, and mash through some cooked courgette too. A few lovely green specks of courgette skin prove to your child they are really very bland and easy to eat, in fact - even cooked - helping them to consciously love courgettes.
- As fritters: add grated courgette to a simple batter mixture, with sweetcorn and peas, and fry - very few children can resist the draw of a freshly fried fritter in my experience. Why not try Jo’s courgette, pea & sweetcorn pancake recipe together?
- As a tortilla filling: Charlotte Hume (in her book ‘The Great Big Veg Challenge’) suggests adding lightly fried grated courgette to tortillas, with grated cheese under and over the courgette, which helps the two tortillas to stick together when baked. This is also a big win in our household.
- Stuffed courgettes: admittedly, summer gluts of courgettes can mean you need to get creative to use them up. Scooping out the inside, replacing with a rice/bread, veg (including the courgette!), meat/bean mix and baking, can mean that the courgette gets eaten in a fun-shaped courgette boat. Definitely worth trying! Why not try Claire’s simple stuffed peppers or Emily’s chilli-stuffed peppers but swap out the peppers for courgettes?