Sweetest at their smallest, these succulent summer squashes are ideal for kids.
• Rosie Sykes's courgette pikelets in pitta bread with sesame dressing recipe
At this time of year, courgettes grow fast and furious. If gardeners or allotment holders overlook them for a few days, modestly proportioned specimens will rapidly reinvent themselves as marrows. But small is beautiful. British courgettes are best now, when they are finger-slim, sweet, and slightly nutty-tasting, before they turn into bloated water bombs.
Courgettes appear to keep well in the fridge, but they become bitter over time, so it's more important to eat them fresh than you might think.
The less liquid added to them, the better. Courgettes are excellent cooked on a cast-iron grill or barbecue, then drizzled with olive oil and herbs. A crumbly garnish of salty white cheese doesn't go amiss. They make the basis for an interesting veggie main course grated in a Greek or Turkish-style fritter, with lots of chopped dill.
Why are courgettes good for me?
Courgettes contain very few calories and have a high water content, which makes them a dieter's friend. They aren't a powerhouse of micronutrients, but they do provide useful amounts of immune system-boosting vitamin C, and significant levels of potassium, which is key to controlling blood pressure. The soluble fibre in the skin slows down digestion, and so stabilises blood sugar and insulin levels. Soluble fibre also helps prevent constipation and relieves irritable bowel symptoms.
Where to buy and what to pay
In summer, courgettes are abundant on farmers' market stalls and in organic veggie boxes. Buy them from these sources and you'll get the pretty flowers also. In supermarkets, check the label to ensure that your identikit courgettes haven't travelled continents. Guide price: £1.60 per kg.
Courgette pikelets in pitta bread with sesame dressing
These little pancakes are very easy and great fun to make with children.
For the pikelets
300g self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
150g courgette, washed,
trimmed and grated
A small handful basil leaves, roughly torn
60g parmesan, grated
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
Butter, for frying
4 pitta breads
A handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped
For the dressing
2-3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp tahini
A pinch of salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Toss in the courgette, basil and parmesan.
2Beat the egg with 275ml milk and 1 tbsp olive oil. Add to the flour mix. Stir well, adding more milk if needed.
3 For the dressing, crush the garlic, mix with the tahini and a pinch of salt. Add half the lemon juice, stir until thick. Stir in the remaining juice. Add water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the dressing is thick, then add the olive oil and stir.
4 Toss the tomatoes in some dressing.
5 Fry 2 tsp dollops of mixture over a medium heat, allowing room to turn the pikelets. When they bubble, turn and cook the other side. Remove from the pan and keep warm in a tea towel.
6 Warm the pitta breads and split. Pop some pikelets and tomato and sesame dressing into each pitta.
Rosie Sykes is head chef of Fitzbillies and co-author of The Kitchen Revolution (Ebury Press, £25). To order a copy for £19.99 with free UK p&p, go to guardianbookshop.co.uk
Courgette pikelets: stuff them in pittas. Photograph: Kimberly Hoang for the Guardian