The flowers on my courgette plants this morning were so enticing that it would have been just plain wasteful not to turn them into edible delicacies.
A quick search on google turned up a variety of possible recipes, all of which involved stuffing the flowers with a cheese and herb mixture of one kind or another. After flirting with the idea of goats cheese and thyme, I opted for ricotta and parmesan with mint – it seemed just a touch more summery. Some of the batter recipes I came across called for eggs or ice cold beer; I decided to keep it really simple with self-raising flour and sparkling water, but then went all fancy-schmancy by making a balsamic reduction to accompany the final dish.
These were vaguely reminiscent of something I ate last year at a wonderful little restaurant in Pimlico called About Thyme (twee name but great food), although I think they used mozzarella in theirs.
Stuffed Courgette Flowers with a Balsamic Reduction
50ml balsamic vinegar
10g parmesan, finely grated
a few mint leaves, shredded
zest of half a lemon and a squeeze of the juice
freshly ground black pepper
6 courgette flowers
75g self-raising flour, sieved
130ml sparkling mineral water
vegetable oil, for frying
flour, for dusting
Put the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and boil it for a few minutes until it turns syrupy. Set aside.
Mix together the ricotta, parmesan, shredded mint, lemon and pepper.
Carefully open the flowers, remove the stamen and any insects that may be lurking inside, then gently insert a spoonful of the ricotta mixture into each one, pressing it down firmly. Twist the flowers closed to keep the stuffing in place.
Make the batter by whisking the flour and sparkling water together until it has the consistency of thin cream. Heat 2cm of vegetable oil in a heavy-based saucepan until it is hot enough to turn a small cube of bread deep golden brown within a couple of minutes. Toss the stuffed flowers in flour and then dip them in the batter, ensuring that they remain closed so the filling can’t escape. Fry them in the hot oil, a couple at a time, turning if necessary until golden and crisp all over – this should take about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.
Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and enjoy, preferably with a nice glass of chilled vino on a balmy summer evening.