Deep-fried courgette flowers with oxheart tomatoes and shaved courgettes

Serves 4

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Indy Lifestyle Online

If you are a gardener and grow your own courgettes or squashes you may not make use of the flowers, instead just letting them die and rot on the plant. What you should do, however, is harvest them when the sun is up in the morning and they are fully opened, and simply fry them in this delicious and simple batter.

The squash and pumpkin family produce lovely flowers that can be harvested continually for a couple of months during the spring and summer; the male flowers are the best ones to pick, as they grow directly from the stem without the courgette attached, so there is no danger of limiting your crop supply.

4 large courgette flowers
120g gluten-free self-raising flour (try Dove's Farm) plus extra for dusting
200ml ice-cold water
20-30g finely grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying
1 large oxheart or beef tomato, cut into 1cm-thick slices (keep the ends and chop them for the dressing)
2 small courgettes
2tsp white wine vinegar
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

To make the batter, slowly whisk the water with the flour in a bowl until you have a smooth consistency. Add the salt and pepper and the Parmesan and give it a final whisk.

Trim the courgettes and shave them lengthways into ribbons with a peeler. Mix the ribbons in a bowl with the vinegar and oil and chopped tomato trimmings and season to taste.

Leave for about 10 minutes to marinate. Meanwhile, heat some vegetable oil to 160-180C in a deep-fat fryer or heavy-based saucepan (make sure it is no more than half full). Test the oil by dropping a little batter into the oil. If it browns after a minute, it's ready.

Dip the courgette flowers into flour first and then shake off the excess before dipping into the batter.

Cook them 3 or 4 at a time for a couple of minutes until they are crisp and a light golden colour.

Remove the courgette flowers from the oil with a slotted spoon and put on a plate with some kitchen paper on it and lightly season with salt.

Place the slices of tomato in the centre of your serving plates, then spoon the marinade with the courgette ribbons and chopped tomatoes on top and around; finally, place the courgette flower on top.

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