Ricotta Stuffed Courgette Flowers

When you can get your hands on fresh small courgettes with their flowers in late spring and the early months of summer you are in for a treat. The small courgettes need little cooking and the flowers are perfect of stuffing. The flowers are stuffed with herb, bacon and ricotta mixture (the bacon can be omitted for a vegetarian option) and deep fried in a light tempura style batter.

Portions: 6 portions as a starter or 4 as a main

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking: 10 minutes

Ingredients

Courgettes

  • 12 small courgettes with flowers

Ricotta Stuffing

  • 75, bacon diced finely
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g ricotta
  • 2 tbsp parmesan grated
  • 1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp basil, finely chopped
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Batter

  • 200g self raising flour
  • pinch salt
  • 400ml of ice cold water
  • oil for deep frying

To Cook

  • 60g plain flour

To Serve

  • 60g mushrooms, finely sliced and roughly diced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp chives finely chopped

Method

  1. Courgettes: Carefully pull back the flowers and cut out pollen stems. Set the courgettes aside while you prepare the stuffing.
  2. Ricotta Stuffing: Heat the oil in a saucepan over a moderate heat, when it is hot add the garlic and bacon to the pan. Cook them for a couple of minutes so that the bacon is cooked. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the bacon and garlic to cool. Place all the remaining ingredients in a bowl with the cooled garlic and bacon. Mix the mixture together until it is well combined. Set aside or refrigerate the stuffing until ready to use.
  3. To Stuff the Flowers: Place small spoonfuls of the stuffing into the flowers, pressing the mixture firmly down. Fill each one until they are well filled, twist the top of the flowers to secure in the stuffing. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to cook. This can be done up to a day in advance.
  4. Batter: Preheat the oil in a deep fryer, a deep pan or wok to 180-190° (a small cube of bread will float to the top and be golden after a few seconds). Place the flour with the salt in a bowl and mix in the iced cold water so that is just combined (this batter must be used immediately).
  5. To Cook: Toss the courgettes gently in the flour and then dip a few of them at a time in the batter. Place the coated courgettes in the preheated oil and deep fry them for 1-2 minutes, so that they are golden and crisp all over. Remove the courgettes form the oil and drain them on kitchen paper. Place the courgettes in a warm while you cook the remaining ones.
  6. To Serve: Place the mushrooms, tomatoes, chives, olive oil and balsamic together in a bowl. Mix them together until well combined. Place 2-3 courgettes in the centre of each plate and spoon around a little of the mushroom and tomato mixture. If you are serving them as a main accompany the dish with a bowl of mixed salad leaves. Serve.