Courgette, Olive and Basil Sauce & Air Fryer Semi-Dried Courgettes

It's that happy time of year again when courgettes are growing in the garden and appearing in the shops faster than a politician thinking up excuses. Here are two simple recipes to make use of the bounty that are just a little bit different. (Slow-cooked courgettes are also well worth trying, if you haven't already).

Courgette, Olive and Basil Sauce

If you take a look at the ingredients, I'm sure it won't come as a surprise when I say that this is a Southern French sauce, or, at least, my interpretation of one. It's a way of producing a creamy sauce with no cream (or anything like it) and plenty of flavour. Admittedly, the colour of the sauce isn't quite as exciting as the taste, but it will seriously liven up simply-cooked chicken, roasted veg (squash, for instance) or, as I fancied eating this time, flash-fried prawns. If you want to vary the amount of basil or olives, or add a little chilli, then I'm confident that the sauce will still come up smiling.

Prawns in Courgette, Olive and Basil Sauce

This should serve 2 people (probably, quite generously).

1 large or 2 smallish courgettes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp anchovy paste (or 1 anchovy fillet)
20 (or thereabouts) leaves of basil
8 (or thereabouts) pitted black olives
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp tomato purée

Slice the courgette thinly and fry very gently in the olive oil for 5 minutes, then stir in the garlic. Continue the gentle frying for another 5 minutes or so until the courgette is soft but not coloured. (But don’t worry too much if it does take on a little colour - it’s not absolutely critical).

Put the contents of the pan into a blender with all the other ingredients. Season with pepper (you shouldn’t need any extra salt). Add 1 tablespoon of water and whiz. Ideally, the sauce should be close to the thickness of double cream but this will depend on the amount of water in the courgette, so add more if it needs it.

Reheat the sauce to serve in your chosen way.


Air Fryer Semi-Dried Courgettes

Partially drying slices of courgette is an old Spanish trick that gives them a very different texture and concentrates the flavour. In Spain, they'll often just leave the slices in the sun to dry (or so I'm told), but that doesn't usually work in the UK. However, if you believe the stories in the press, it appears that everybody and their dog has an air fryer these days. The good news is that the courgette slices dry very well in these devices. You can, of course, dry them in a conventional oven, but it will take longer.

Courgette Appetiser

Cut the courgettes into thin slices lengthways. (Not too thin, since you want to retain a little moisture.) Put into the air fryer at 110°C, without overcrowding it. They shouldn't take too long, but the time will vary a lot according to the thickness of the slices and the amount of water in the courgettes at the start. Slices of freshly-picked courgettes were dried enough for me after about 15 minutes. Don't worry about some of the slices taking on a bit of colour, but don't let them brown and crisp up too much. 

Once semi-dried, fry the slices in a little olive oil until they're golden (or maybe a little brown) all over. This won't take long so watch them carefully. 

The slices can be served with pasta, showered on top of a risotto to add texture or, my favourite, simply served as an appetiser, sprinkled with salt and chopped mint and with a few drops of good, balsamic vinegar.


  1. Our courgette plants in France are relentlessly producing large green and yellow courgettes at the moment so any ideas on what to do with them are handy.
    I especially like the idea of serving the dried and fried courgette slices as an appetiser - makes a change from rillettes on toast.
    We now have an air fryer on both sides of the channel. The UK one is very small and digital with a fancy control panel on top, bought on special offer. The French one was about twice the price and is positively neanderthal by comparison. It has a temperature control dial which is not very precise and a ping timer dial, a bit like the old microwave ovens. It also has a detachable front which wasn't detachable until I dropped it - but it still works!

    1. I bought a very cheap air fryer, which was upgraded to a slightly less cheap but still very basic model after it developed a fault. I don't think I need anything fancy, to be honest, especially when a basic one does this kind of drying job. Although, you do need to keep an eye on them I've found, because they can be a bit unpredictable.

  2. Phil, great ways to use courgettes. I might be the only person on the planet who does not have an air fryer, but I'm told my convection toaster oven can do the job. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. I've oven-roasted until quite dry thin slices of courgettes for various purposes, and I do like them best with much of their water removed.

    1. I've talked to a lot of people who've told me they don't like courgettes and I think this is often due to a watery excess in the finished dish. I think drying courgettes concentrates the flavour really well but, although it's a common enough process in Europe, it seems rare in the UK. The air fryer is definitely convenient, but optional. Given that there's so much talk about air fryers these days, I thought I'd finally get round to giving them a mention, at least.


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