stuffed courgette flowers with honey recipe

You don't often see courgette flowers for sale in the UK, but if you do, buy them. If you grow courgettes, pumpkins or squash, you'll have plenty of these in your garden, though you might be a little unsure of how to go about cooking them.

This recipe might look tricky, but is, in fact, perfectly easy. The Cretan combination of the mild goat's cheese with the runny honey is wonderful.

Serves 8

  • 16 courgette flowers
  • 100g pine nuts or 150g fresh/frozen peas
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 150g goat's cheese, crumbly or soft (any that will mix in the the cream cheese)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Light olive oil, for frying
  • Runny honey, to serve

For the batter

  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • Salt and black pepper

First make the batter: sift the flour into a medium bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the olive oil, stirring as you pour. Gradually add a little warm water to loosen the mixture, stirring all the time, until you have a batter the consistency of double cream. Season. Leave to stand at room temperature for at least 45 minutes. The warm water swells the flour and stops it being too heavy.

Just before cooking, beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold gently into the batter.

Shake the courgette flowers to dislodge any ants or earwigs that might be hidden inside, and remove the stigma from the centre. If you have mini courgettes with the flowers, slit them lengthways two-thirds of the way up the fruit (this allows the heat to penetrate the courgette flesh).

Toast the pine nuts or cook the peas in plenty of salted boiling water for 3 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine the pine nuts or peas with the cheeses, salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil.

Using your fingers, gently part the flower petals, leaving one finger inside to keep them open. Carefully stuff each flower with 2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture, sealing the pointed end by giving it a little twist.

Fill a deep saucepan with enough oil to reach about one-third of the way up the side, and have a lid or splash-guard on standby to prevent the oil splitting too much after you add each batch. Heat the oil until it reaches about 190c, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds.

Coat your stuffed flowers with batter and shallow-fry them - just 3 or 4 at a time - until they're crisp and golden (you'll need to turn them while they're cooking). Drain on kitchen paper.

Put 2 flowers per person on individual plates, drizzle with the honey and add a scattering of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

This recipe feature on p151 of Sarah Raven's Food for Friends and Family

stuffed courgette flowers with honey