Monday, 27 August 2012

Meat Free Monday - stuffed courgette flowers & peppers

One of the best things in life, in my opinion, is having a group of like-minded women to spend time with. About 8 years ago, I spent quite a lot of time knocking about Sydney with a bunch of excellent women that my now-husband affectionately referred to as the "Alco-tarts". We were all quite grown-up girls with fairly progressive social views who weren't particularly interested in clubbing but did like a bit of booze with some tasty snacks whilst we spent hours (and hours and hours) chatting and setting the world to rights.

Because of the varying dietary requirements of the Alco-tarts, we'd generally focus on some sort of vegetarian platter. There was one particularly good one, which featured little squishy-centred risotto cakes and deep-fried courgette flowers stuffed with cheese. I loved the courgette flowers! They were delicate and not at all greasy but abundantly filled with melted cheese.

When I saw that the people who supply my veg box were selling courgette flowers, I knew I had to try to replicate the ones I enjoyed all that time ago. The veg is delivered on a Monday, and because the flowers are so delicate I knew I'd have to cook them Monday night.

I scuttled into the kitchen as soon as I got home from work, and opened the veg box...

And discovered that the pretty little punnet contained just 4 courgette flowers. Totally scuttling my idea of eating just courgette flowers for dinner. Fortunately I'd also ordered some little peppers so I figured I'd stuff some of them to bulk out the meal. And discovered that there were only 4 of them as well.

I made a filling of 100g ricotta (leftover from another recipe), some garlic, some grated parmesan and a big bunch of chopped fresh basil, thyme and parsley.

Now, the theory with courgette flowers, as I understand it, is that you have to carefully unfurl the petals, take out the stamen and then stuff them. Well either I have ridiculously clumsy fingers (quite possible) or these flowers weren't in their absolute first freshness, but no matter how I tried the tips of the petals just sort of pureed in my fingers. I had to tear down them to get them open at all.

I stuffed them, folding the tears back up around the filling, and stuffed the little peppers. Then I dipped them in a light cornflour batter and shallow fried them for about 2 minutes a side, until they were all light and crisp, and drained them well on kitchen paper.

I served them on some chickpeas (canned), heated through in some home-made tomato sauce.

They were, actually, delicious. The flowers do taste delicately of courgette, and the filling was lovely, and the contrast of crisp outsides with melty, creamy middles was gorgeous. But given the fiddling, irritation and expense (did I mention that the punnet of 4 flowers cost £2.99?) they are definitely going to be something I leave to the professionals.


14 comments:

Angie's Recipes said...

4 courgette flowers cost £3? I always thought they were cheap, esp. in summer time.
I like spicy pepper stuffing and looks great served with chickpeas.

charterbot said...

Ah those wonderful Alco-tart sessions! [Opera Bar seems to have recovered a little after its woeful nosedive in quality the year you left Oz]

I should you are right, the failure lay in the not-fresh state of the flowers, not your hands, as the alarmingly phallic pistils (stamens?) usually do pluck out easily when fresh. Also? That price for 4? Eeek! What a great excuse to inveigle you into a France holiday in late spring ;) where one can carry home great edible bouquets of them so cheaply... ::nudge:: to have with buckets of chilled pale dry dry rosé or the same beer used to beer-batter the morsels ::nudge nudge::

Actually just re-read Barbara Pym's Excellent Women not that long ago, thankfully we were more about the bubbly than the tea-urn!

Foodycat said...

Angie - I thought they were supposed to be quite cheap too!

Charterbot - say the word and we are there! Just give us a month or so notice to arrange visas and a cat sitter.

Hotly Spiced said...

I love zucchini flowers. They are so delicious especially when stuffed, battered and lightly fried. Great recipe xx

Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez said...

Alco-Tarts! That's cute. I love squash flowers and stuffing them with cheese...this is a very tempting dish. I actually have some that need to be used right outside my door :D

Foodycat said...

Charlie - I just wish these had worked better!

Heather - I think growing them yourself is definitely the way to go. Then you can guarantee freshness!

Choclette said...

I keep hearing about stuffed courgette flowers. They sound so delicious, but also rather fiddly, which is the main reason I haven't actually tried them. However, since reading your post, I now know how to make myself rich - had no idea I could have been doing so well from all our wasted courgette flowers.

Mary said...

These sound amazing! I really have to give them a try. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

mscrankypants said...

I don't know if my comment saved as Blogger crashed when I hit 'submit'. I muttered something about being deprived of a recent opportunity to try zuccini flowers and maybe it will happen soon.

Joanne said...

The only time I've ever had courgette flowers is in restaurants but man are they delicious! I love this dish you've made!

Kathleen Lisson said...

These look fabulous!

Rachel said...

I wanna be an Alco-Tart when I grow up! These look great. Corn flour (that's cornstarch to us Americans, right?)sounds perfect for frying to get that crispy edge. I usually stuff my squash blossoms with goat cheese, herbs and garlic, but I like the ricotta idea for a change. And I can't believe the price of those flowers. It must be because of their delicacy (and the fact that you have to chase bees away when you are harvesting them).

grace said...

this sounds so yummy! i love the bed of saucy chickpeas, and the courgette (=a much nicer word than zucchini!) flower looks perfectly prepared. :)

Simona said...

Nice idea to use ricotta for the filling. They sound a bit expensive, though now that I think about it, I don't remember how much they cost at the farmers' market in Oakland where I go. I think they are still considered a specialty food, rather than something you get for free when you grow zucchini. And it is true that they are delicate to handle and perishable. The little peppers are cute too.

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