Courgette flowers are a beautiful seasonal treat. You need to pick them in the morning, let the dew dry off and use them as soon as possible as the flowers will close up. You can eat courgette flowers raw in salads, steam or stuff them. The traditional filling is soft cheese, but I like filling them with a vegan chickpea, herb and roasted red pepper filling, dunking them in a tempura batter and shallow frying.
Stuffed Courgette Flowers
- 8 Courgette or Marrow male flowers or female with mini courgettes
- Sunflower oil for frying
- Lemon wedges
- 80g plain flour
- 20g corn flour
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 150ml chilled water
- 100g cooked chickpeas, mashed
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 small courgette, grated
- 1 small red pepper, roasted, peeled and diced
- olive oil for frying
- fresh parsley, chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 150g ricotta
- 50g vegetarian parmesan, grated
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 8 basil leaves, torn
- 1 tsp lemon juice and zest to taste
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- sunflower oil for shallow or deep frying
To make the ricotta filling:
- Mix all the ingredients together and make sure the mix is well seasoned.
To make the vegan filling:
- Fry the spring onion in the olive oil.
- Squeeze the water out of the grated courgette and add to the spring onion along with the red pepper.
- Fry for a minute to amalgamate the flavours.
- Mix in the mashed chickpeas, parsley and season well.
To prepare courgette flowers:
- Carefully unfold the flower and nip the pistil out from the middle of the flower.
- Clean any dirt or little bugs out with a cotton bud.
- Fill the courgette flowers with the chickpea mixture to where the petals fan out and then twist the flower petals slightly to keep the stuffing in.
To make the batter:
- Pour cold water in a large bowl. Sift all flour and bicarbonate of soda all at once. Mix roughly with fork.
- To shallow fry heat sunflower oil to 3cm in a deep-sided frying pan.
- To deep fry in a wok fill to 1/3 full and always use a wok stand to keep it stable.
- Only fry tempura in hot oil. You can test if it is ready by popping in a cube of bread, it should rise to the top straight away, bubble and brown within seconds. Dip the courgette flowers one by one in the batter and fry straight away. They are ready when golden brown. Remove from the oil with tongs and drain on kitchen paper.
Serve with a fennel saffron sauce.
- Tempura batter should not have much gluten so never mix too much and keep batter mix ingredients cold.
- Don’t fry more than half of capacity of the pan, to keep oil temperature consistent.
- When it’s cooked drain off the excess oil as it stands.
- Oil needs to be more than 5cm deep in a pan.
- Oil temperature: When a little batter is dropped in:
Under 160 degrees - stays on bottom pan
About 160 degrees - floats up immediately after touching bottom of the pan
170-180 degrees - sink in the middle way and float up
Over 200 degrees - stays on surface