A deep-fried courgette flower stuffed with walnuts, garlic & bread, drizzled with honey

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Preparation info

  • For

    8

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

In Turkey, there is a wonderful classic sauce, more like a chunky pesto in texture, called tarator. It contains nuts, stale bread soaked in water which is then squeezed out, garlic, oil and sometimes vinegar or lemon juice. Everything is pounded together and it seems to be served with anything from fish through to cucumber salad and boiled cauliflower. Whenever I think of courgette flowers I always think of Italy - although obviously they call courgettes ‘zucchini’. I’ve eaten them in Italy many times, usually stuffed with a filling based on ricotta, but this is more up my street - especially when they’re drizzled with a lovely floral but light honey.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of 2-day-old sourdough or country bread - it must be a little stale and firm
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 generous pinches of dried chilli flakes, or try Spanish pimenton (smoked paprika)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves off the stem
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 100 g goat’s cheese - something like a French chèvre or a Spanish Monte Enebro - keep it chilled until needed
  • 50 g walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 8 courgette flowers - the blossoms must be plump, if they’ve collapsed they’ll be very hard to stuff
  • 120 g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 220 ml beer (use a light lager)
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 80 ml runny honey for drizzling over the cooked blossoms

Method

Remove the crusts from the bread and discard then cut the bread roughly into chunks. Place in a food processor with the garlic, chilli, tarragon and spring onions. Pulse blitz it until you have coarse breadcrumbs. Cut the goat’s cheese into chunks and add this and the walnuts to the bread, and pulse blitz it again. Do not purée the mixture - if it looks like it’s going to do that, then you’re going to have to break it up between your fingers - this is why the bread needs to be a little stale.

Divide the stuffing equally into eight lumps, then roll each into a squat sausage shape about 5 cm long. Leaving the blossoms lying on a board, pull opposing petals open until you can see into the blossom. Gently but forcefully poke the stuffing into the cavity until it’s pressed hard against the top of the baby courgette, then gently wrap the petals back around the stuffing, giving the flower a gentle squeeze in the palm of your hand to remove any extra air. Stuff the remaining blossoms the same way then place on a tray in the fridge while you make the batter.

To make the batter, sieve the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together into a wide bowl, then whisk in the beer to form a smooth, lump-free batter and put to one side for 5 minutes.

You need to deep-fry the flowers in a pan or a wok wide enough that they can lay straight. Heat up at least 8 cm of vegetable oil to 180°C. Dip the flowers into the batter one at a time, rolling them in it to coat evenly and thoroughly. Carefully lower the first flower into the hot oil and once it’s been sizzling for 20 seconds, batter another flower and lower it into the hot oil. Once the first one looks golden, gently roll it over onto its other side so it cooks evenly. Each flower should take around 1½-2 minutes to cook. As soon as one is ready, very carefully lift it out of the hot oil using two slotted spoons or tongs and lay it on kitchen paper. Once it’s out, roll the other one still in the oil over, then batter and cook the next one. If you’re feeling confident you can cook three or four at once.

To Serve

One per person is the perfect amount for tapas, just drizzle with the honey while still hot and eat straight away.