As soon as summer awakened, yes I know it’s gone back into hibernation, these courgette flowers were straight into my basket. I’d never actually used the flowers before but I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.
The flowers themselves don’t actually really taste of much but the point is they are perfect vessels to fill with a soft cheesy mix. You could really go crazy but the most common fillings are of cheeses such as ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan. Alongside those in the mix you can also find, mint, basil, anchovies, olives and even a meat blend can be used to fill the flowers. Are you sensing an Italian theme here? Yes, they are commonly associated with Italian fare. The point is you can make it your own and use whatever you fancy out of your fridge. It may not traditional, but why not experiment?
I opted for a more traditional approach for my first try, picking up some ricotta, mint and parsley as I made my escape from the market.
Stuffed Courgette Flowers
5-6 baby courgettes with flowers attached
about 80g-100g ricotta
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 tbsp chopped parsley
small grating of parmesan (say 10-15g)
salt and pepper
Vegetable or Rice Bran oil
4 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 heaped tbsp cornflour
1 egg, lightly beaten
cold sparkling water
First cut the stamen out from inside the flower, they are bitter. Take your time to do this and try not to tear the flower too much, as it is your vessel to hold the filling and as such will hold it better the less you tear the flower petals. I found this easiest to do with a pair of scissors.
To make the filling combine the ricotta, mint, parsley and parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste (keeping in mind the parmesan will be slightly salty as well). I find using a plastic bag easiest for a make shift piping bag. Spoon the mix into a heavy plastic bag, like a zip lock sandwich bag, and cut a small 1cm piece off one corner.
Then make the batter by combining the flour, cornflour and egg, whisking in the sparking water (maybe 100mls) until the batter is quite a runny consistency (like single cream).
Choose a saucepan wide enough to fry the courgettes flat. Fill it 4-5cm deep with the oil of your choice (choose one that has a low threshold to smoking at high temperatures). Put the pan on a high heat.
Fill the flowers with the mix, taking care not to over fill, make sure the petals covers the sides, then twist then ends to hold in the filling. Dip into the batter and place slowly into pan, flower first and away from you. Only fry two at a time so as not to reduce the oil temperature too much and over crowd the pan. When just golden remove and drain on kitchen paper. The courgette may still have a slight fresh crunch. Serve hot with a wedge of lemon.
Serves one as a main, two as an entree, or four as part of a sharing meal.