I wanted to share an unusual recipe I found in my travels, whilst researching courgette
. Before I began, I'd heard of edible flowers
- things like nasturtiums
, but never thought to extend it into things that I had actually grown myself:
about 30 (115 g/4 oz) courgette (zucchini) flowers
100 g/3-1/2 oz plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
175 ml/6 fl oz soda water
oil, for deep frying
lemon wedges, to serve
Anchovy Stuffing (optional):
8 canned anchovy fillets,
drained 60 g/2 oz soft white breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons water
Gently part the petals of the courgette flowers and pull out the pistils
as well as any cucumber beetles
that may be lurking therein. Trim the stems to 2 cm (¾ inch). Rinse the flowers and shake them gently. Let stand them on a cloth for about 1 hour to dry.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the middle and add most of the soda water. Using a fork, gradually stir in the flour until incorporated, using more soda water if necessary to give a thickish cream consistency.
Heat the oil almost to smoking point, and drop in a little batter, which should begin to sizzle immediately. Holding each flower by the stem, dip into the batter, scraping off the excess on the side of the bowl. Drop five or six at a time into the hot oil and deep fry, turning to brown evenly. Remove to crumpled kitchen paper to drain. Pile onto a heated serving platter and serve hot with lemon wedges.
Anchovy Stuffing variation: Finely chop the anchovies and combine with the remaining stuffing ingredients in a bowl, adding enough water to hold the mixture together. Gently part the flower petals and insert 1 teaspoon of stuffing into each flower. Press the petals together. Dip in the patter and deep fry as above.
Nowadays (nearly five years on!) I occasionally work with a local small farmer at the Davis farmers market, and he sells squash flowers (summer squash), and being an ex-chef too, he shared a couple of recipes, as did his customers.
As with so many things in life, sometimes less is more, so he may simply make a light batter and fry them until crisp (still gently fragrant and squash-y) - in fact that is his son's favourite treatment of this little delight.
The other recipe (from one of the customers!) is slightly more complex, but still elegant - stuff the flowers with a mixture of goat cheese, fresh herbs and a good, buttery olive oil, then batter and fry as above. This is apparently a fairly common dish in the Mediterranean, and has been carried to the USA via the Hispanic and French routes.
And now, of course, my education is complete, or more so. And I realise that I'd have had a better recipe had I known that other people know my courgette as zucchini.