Unless you grow courgettes then you will probably find it difficult to get hold of courgette flowers. If you do grow your own like me, you will probably be pulling your hair out right now as to how to keep up with all the courgettes that are appearing. You turn your back one minute and they have morphed into marrows!!! Its tough to know what grows fastest – courgettes or bindweed!!
And there are so many different types that together they look like a still life! I prefer them when they are small, and I am definitely with the Italians on cooking and eating the flowers, or tearing the flowers into shreds and scattering over salads so nothing goes to waste.
Anyway this weekend I was scratching my head as to what I could do with all the courgettes that keep on coming. I have put them in with pasta, even made them an alternative to pasta by grating them into long strands and serving them with pasta sauce, baked them, eaten them as salads and given them away to everyone I can think of, but nothing so far that made them into a star ingredient in their own right. Until now!!! After trawling through all my cookery books I took inspiration from some classic Italian recipes and tweaked them to accommodate what I had in the fridge
This dish works as a starter or as a main course depending on how many courgettes you use, although if you are serving it as a main course I would serve some crusty bread with it too. If you do decide to “go large” and use more courgettes there will be no need to make more batter as this recipe makes more than enough – but then it isn’t really possible to make less due to the fact it has a whole egg in it and eggs don’t easily divide so if you scaled down you would be left with half a beaten egg!!
This recipe is vegetarian but meat lovers will like it too. So if you do either grow courgettes or get hold of some baby ones with flowers at the market and want to show them off then give it a go. .
Stuffed Baby Courgettes with Flowers (serves 2 greedy people as starter depending on size of courgettes)
- 6 small courgettes with flowers attached
- 150g ricotta
- 100g crumbly soft goats cheese (See tips and alternatives at end of recipe for other cheeses to use)
- 1/4 fresh red chilli, chopped finely, seeds removed
- 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped finely
- grated zest of a lemon
- 100g plain flour
- pinch bicarb of soda
- 1 egg
- 200ml water, chilled in fridge
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- 8 tomatoes, chopped with flesh removed or 200ml good quality fresh tomato sauce at room temperature – or both!
- Basil leaves, torn, to serve
Carefully remove the waxy stigmas from inside of courgette flowers and remove any insects from courgettes (they really do like those yellow flowers!!!)
Mix together cheeses, lemon zest, chilli and mint into a small bowl
Divide mixture and use to fill each of the courgette flowers, twisting petals shut to seal (I find it easier to put mix into a piping bag without nozzle and fill the flowers that way rather than trying to spoon it in)
Heat oil for deep frying to 180C
Mix flour, bicarb, egg and cold water together to form a batter the consistency of single cream. It will look more like a tempura batter than pancake mix
Take batter and stuffed courgettes over to heated oil. Dip flowers and then courgettes into batter and fry in small batches of two or three (depending on size) for 3 to 4 mins. Drain on kitchen roll and keep warm until all are cooked
Put on plates garnished with either chopped tomato or fresh tomato sauce (or both), scatter over fresh basil and serve
Tips and Alternatives
If you are not keen on goats cheese then you can use 100g crumbled feta or 50g grated parmesan instead
I usually put tomato sauce/fresh tomatoes on plate before deep frying the courgettes as this way there is more chance of me getting the courgettes to table whilst courgettes are warm and batter crispy