Fried courgette flowers

Serves 4

All the squash and pumpkin family produce great flowers that can be harvested continually for a couple of months and then cooked. The flowers are best harvested when the sun is out and when they have fully opened – so you will have to send your kids out into the garden to pick them at just the right time.

I prefer courgette flowers that have been simply fried in Parmesan batter but you can also carefully stuff a little mozzarella or ricotta into the flower before frying; although you need to be careful as sometimes this creates too much moisture and makes the batter go soggy.

It's important to get the batter as thin and as crisp as possible and what works really well, too, is a packet of tempura batter mixed with a little finely-grated Parmesan, although the following recipe is easy enough.

You can serve these fried flowers on their own as a starter or appetiser, or make a mayonnaise-based sauce with, say, pesto mixed in to accompany them, or even a salsa with courgettes, peppers and tomatoes, etc.

8 large courgette flowers
120g self-raising flour
200ml ice cold water
20-30g finely grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying

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

Meanwhile, heat some vegetable oil to 160-180C in a deep-fat fryer or heavy-based saucepan (but no more than half full). Test the oil by dropping a little batter into the oil. If it browns after a minute or so then it's ready.

Dip the flowers into flour first and 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 light golden.

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. If you have made a salsa, serve the courgette flowers on top.

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