Zucchini and courgettes are essentially different names for the same thing. They are summer squash plants that come in various sizes and colours. Other summer squash come in a variety of different shapes as well – you basically grow and cook them the same way.
In the past I had had variable luck growing courgettes, probably because I wasn’t watering them enough. So now I always get two plants just in case one doesn’t grow, sometimes one green and one yellow. But of course now that I am putting lots of compost and water on the garden, both plants have positively thrived for the last few years producing more courgettes than I can cope with. My ‘courgette factory’ has been supplying people at work for weeks.
The plants always seem to grow much bigger than I expect (you think I’d learn by now) and in my ‘maximised space’ garden the plants take some management to make sure they don’t crowd out everything else. They seem to cope really well with me just cutting off the biggest leaves and any that are shading other plants. One thing to take into account as well is that although the plants start in one place, the stems get longer and longer and stretch out across the ground so you have to try to send them in a direction where there is some space – start this training early on if you can. Even though they are reasonably flexible, don’t be tempted to try and curl them around because they just snap off!
You can eat the courgettes at any size you like. If you miss picking for a few days (particularly after rain) you will end up with enormous marrows. You can even eat the flowers – either by themselves or with baby courgettes attached. See my other posts on edible flowers and recipes for stuffed zucchini flowers and crispy zucchini flowers stuffed with herb ricotta.
I like to cut courgettes in half, grill them on the barbeque and serve with a little chutney. You can put cheese on top and put them under the grill. They are delicious drizzled with olive oil and garlic and roasted or barbequed with egg-plant, mushrooms and capsicums. You can use them to make relishes or to make zucchini loaf (or bread or cake).
They do freeze well, either in rings or pieces – blanch them first (see Freezing Vegetables). You can also grate them and freeze them in bags (hint: freeze them in 1 cup lots to make it easy for cooking recipes later). Just about all the websites I looked at said to simply freeze the grated courgette rather than trying to blanch them.