deepfried courgette flowers with Knockalara sheep's cheese & capers and a tomato-citrus broth
I used to be a little apologetic about giving out recipes for courgette flowers, because it’s not the kind of ingredient you’re going to come across in the supermarket or even at very many farmers markets. But now that everyone’s gone gardening mad and producing their own food, it’s likely that most of you are overrun with courgette plants just now and tearing your hair out trying to use them all up. Pick the flowers with small courgettes attached and you’ve got the makings of a very elegant and simple dish. Serve these as a starter or turn them into a main course with a little risotto or new potatoes on the side. You’ve probably got the spuds down the back garden too.
Just to stay ahead of the pack, Ultan down on Gortnanain Farm has this year grown a full crop of a squash he trialled last year. Going by the name of ‘floridor’, the fruit is like a very short bullet-shaped yellow courgette, and it produces a large slightly more open flower that is much easier to work with, keeps a little longer and seems to be able to stand up to a bit more handling. So, if you like stuffing flowers for dinner, next year try replacing half of your courgette crop with floridor squash.
60g rice flour
40g plain flour
200mls sparkling water
oil for deep-frying
Bring a pot of water to a boil. With a sharp knife, score the base of the tomatoes with a cross and drop them into the water for 30 seconds or so. Remove them to a bowl of cold water, then peel off the skins. Deseed the tomatoes and finely dice the flesh.
Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the tomato and garlic, and cook for one minute. Add the orange zest and herbs, and cook for one minute more. Add the passata and 100mls of water or vegetable stock. Simmer for one minute, then remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Leave the broth to cool to room temperature.
Stir the capers and chives into the cheese. Open the flowers and fill them to about halfway with the mixture. Twist the ends of the flowers to partially close them.
Combine the flours and whisk in enough cold sparkling water to get a thin batter.
Heat some vegetable oil to approximately 180°c in a deepfryer or pot.
Drop the flowers into the batter to lightly coat them, then lower them carefully into the oil, a few at a time. Fry for 3-4 minutes, turning once, until lightly coloured and crisp. Drain on paper.