Stuffed Courgette Flowers and Sage Leaves in a Light Beer Batter

One of the bonuses of growing your own courgettes is that you can also use their flowers, which have a lovely tender sweetness. To me, the most delectable way of eating them is deep-fried in batter, as they do in Italy. The courgette flowers should be picked shortly before cooking and should be closed rather than open. If the flowers are still closed you can insert a piece of cheese into the centre, which melts as they cook.

As this recipe means cooking at the last moment it is ideal for a few friends sitting informally in the kitchen. The batter is beautifully light and crisp.

Ingredients

  • 100 g/4 oz plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 200 ml/7 fl oz lager
  • 65-75 g/2½-3 oz Gruyère cheese
  • 8-10 courgette flowers
  • groundnut oil for deep-frying
  • about 15 large sage leaves (pick the largest you can find)
  • salt
  • black pepper

Method

Put a large, shallow serving dish in a low oven to keep warm. Whizz the flour and egg in a food processor to mix. Then add the lager gradually — the batter is better if it isn’t too smooth so don’t whizz for long after each addition. Season with salt and plenty of pepper and pour into a bowl.

Cut the cheese into small cubes and insert 1-3 cubes between the petals and into the centre of each courgette flower. Heat plenty of groundnut oil in a large, deep pan until smoking hot. Dip a few of the stuffed flowers into the batter, then put them immediately into the hot oil and fry until light golden brown all over — you may have to turn them over in the oil once. Lift out the fried flowers with a slotted spatula and leave on kitchen paper to drain while you continue with another batch. When you have finished the flowers, put the sage leaves into the batter all at once, then pick them out and put them into the oil separately, frying them just until slightly brown and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper. Then put the flowers into the warmed serving dish, pile the fried sage leaves on top and serve at once.

,