The courgette growers among us already know of the magic of courgette flowers; one minute tightly twirled buds, giving the impression that they won’t open for days, and the next, diaphanous, golden blooms. These cavernous, trumpet-shaped flowers tend to open early in the morning and are at their best for a relatively short time. For the best results, rise with the morning chorus, harvest them carefully, (with their tender, baby courgettes attached) give them a good shake to dislodge any sleepy inhabitants, then whisk them into the kitchen and keep them cool until ready to prepare and cook.
Perhaps the best way to enjoy them is to stuff the flower cavity with a delicate mixture of ricotta, zesty lemon and fresh herbs, then, after a dunking in batter, fry them quickly until golden brown; delicious!
Deep fried courgette flowers in beer batter
Serves 4 as a starter
For the stuffed courgette flowers
- 220g ricotta
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 – 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped soft herbs, such as basil, chives and chervil
- Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 courgette flowers, with baby courgettes attached
- Plain flour, for dusting
For the beer batter
- 150g plain flour
- ¾ tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda
- A pinch of salt
- 200ml ice cold pale ale, or other light beer
- 250ml vegetable oil
- Put the ricotta, lemon zest and juice and herbs into a mixing bowl. Season with salt and black pepper and stir well to mix.
- Carefully spoon the stuffing mixture into each of the courgette flowers and gently squeeze the petals back together, to enclose the mixture.
- Dredge the stuffed flowers with plenty of flour and set aside on a tray lined with non-stick baking parchment.
- For the batter, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Gradually add the beer, stirring continuously, to form a batter.
- Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan or a deep-fat fryer, until a crumb of bread sizzles and turns brown in about 20 seconds.
- Dip the courgette flowers into the batter and fry in the hot oil for 3 – 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the courgettes from the pan, using a slotted spoon, and drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve.