Courgette and pumpkin flowers stuffed with spiced ricotta
Not quite sure what I am doing wrong this summer - although my little patch of courgette and pumpkin plants were happy to produce piles of beautiful flowers, they weren’t so keen on following through with the actual veggies. It was all a little frustrating until I stopped complaining and concentrated on finding tasty ways of dealing with the blossom surplus.
This is my favourite. First you stuff the flowers with herb and chilli ricotta, then dip in batter and fry fast and furiously in hot oil. It sounds fiddly but the end result is a pile of utterly delicious fluffy cheesy clouds, perfect for a starter or a light lunch with a green salad. Feeds 4-5
Kid alert! Sorry - because of the deep frying, this recipe is definitely one for the grown ups.
250g ricotta cheese
30g finely grated Parmesan cheese
grated zest of one small lemon (save the lemon after zesting)
handful of young mint leaves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp sun dried tomato paste
maldon salt crystals and black pepper
200g self raising flower
350ml sparkling water
10 courgette or pumpkin flowers in good nick, stalks snipped off
vegetable oil for deep frying
baby salad leaves to serve
Mix the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest, mint, chilli and sun dried tomato paste together, then season to taste and set aside. Make the batter by whisking the flour and water together until it has the same consistency as double cream.
Very carefuly, open the flowers, cut the stamens off at the base and throw away. Then gently hold the petals apart and using a teaspoon, fill the flower with ricotta. When you have squeezed in as much as you can, fold the petals snugly around the mixture, so it looks like a little parcel. Continue until you have filled all the flowers.
When you are ready to cook, make sure there are no kids about. Carefully heat the vegetable oil in a deep sided saucepan (I use a small saucepan which will fit in four flowers at a time and filled with 10cm of vegetable oil) Test the temperature by dropping in a little piece of bread, and if it turns golden immediately, it is ready.
When the oil is ready, first drop the filled flowers one by one into the batter, and turn over so they are completely coated.
Then carefully lower them into the hot oil (be very cautious here as it will sizzle and splatter) I usually cook four at a time, but you will need to adapt this depending on your saucepan size. The flowers are ready when they are a beautiul golden brown.
Remove from the oil with tongs or a strainer and drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt crystals and mint leaves, before serving with lemon quarters and salad leaves.