Tempura Courgette Flowers

I’ve got several courgette plants crammed into my tiny front garden and two whoppers in pots in the back garden. They are such productive plants but it’s the bright yellow flowers rather than the little marrows that I get excited by. Yesterday morning there were four flowers with baby courgettes attached and I couldn’t resist plucking them for stuffing. This is a recipe I’ll be making repeatedly; stuffing the flowers with ricotta, nutmeg, Parmesan, lemon and basil, dipping them in a quickly made tempura batter and deep frying until they puff and splutter. This is quite wonderful and the stuffing could be edited with different herbs and adding scraps of ham. Although this is a perk for courgette growers, the flowers can be bought from enterprising veg shops and farmers markets and this gorgeous hot weather we are having is bringing them on a treat.

Serves 2

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 8 min

200g ricotta

1 lemon


2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

handful of basil leaves

8 courgette flowers with or without small courgette attached

for the batter:

100g plain flour

½ (half) tsp baking powder

225ml cold sparkling water

oil for frying

     Whip the ricotta with the microplaned zest of the lemon with 1 tbsp lemon juice until light and fluffy. Season with black pepper, nutmeg and fold in the Parmesan and shredded basil. Carefully open one flower at a time – they are much tougher than they seem – and fill with 3-4 teaspoons of mixture. This is fiddly. Twist the ends to seal. Just before you are ready to cook make the tempura batter. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl, beat in the water. Heat 5cm depth of oil in a fryer or deep-sided pan. Have a fold of kitchen paper ready. Heat the oil until hot enough to turn a scrap of bread golden brown in 30 seconds. Dip one flower at a time in the batter and immerse in the hot oil, using tongs to lift, turn and remove, cooking for less than a minute until puffy and golden. Rest on kitchen paper and continue. I find it easier to do no more than two flowers at a time; one is best.