The bright yellow star shaped courgette flowers might be more exciting than boring old zucchini fruit, if you shallow fry them in olive oil, coated in a touch of batter.
What to do with a glut of courgettes?
If you grow courgettes, you know it’s a curse and a blessing. A blessing because no matter what weather, all other crops may fail, rot and perish but not the zucchini plant – it’s annoyingly reliable.
And it’s a curse because of the eternal question what to do with the glut.
Are courgette flowers edible?
You might not know it but there’s actually more to courgette than the fruit – and fruit it is. I think.*
Because the bright yellow flowers, opening like a monster jaw on sunny days then curling up to sleep on sundown, are also edible.
In fact, in some countries the fruit is pretty much ignored and the blossom prized, picked and sold.
How to handle courgette flowers?
Needless to say, they have to be handled with care. The zucchini flower seems to be even more annoying than the vegetable (fruit).
It wilts almost as you watch it, it harbours little flies inside and it tears on touch.
But since the Greeks and Italians swear by fried zucchini flowers so all that faff has to be worth something.
What do courgette flowers taste like?
And it is – the fried flowers are delicious. They taste a bit like a cross between really fresh cucumber and slightly wilted lettuce dipped in batter and flash fried.
You can house a sliver of cheese for a cheerful ooze when the fried flower is sliced, but it actually, uncommonly, does not add much value here.
Perhaps it's because of being better suited for not quite so fragile an environment. It just shows: not quite everything is better with cheese.
But a leaf of fresh mint inserted into courgette flowers – now that is a heavenly touch.
How to clean and prepare fiori di zuccha?
To clean the blossom, it’s best to plunge them in a bowl of water and shake around a bit.
Check for bugs, then pull out the stem.
Let them dry very well before brushing through runny batter and dropping in a pan with shimmering olive oil.
No, we shouldn’t fry in olive oil but this is gentle frying and thus legitimately allowed, for the benefit of the olive flavour.
Courgette flowers the Italian way
Don’t overcook them. The flowers should really be only half-cooked, and removed as soon as the batter around them starts to appear crunchy.
Try also simply dredging damp flowers through flour and then frying them lightly. My recipe is the full works, the traditional Italian way, but the minimalist approach will also work well.
More courgette recipes
A wonderful salad – and yes, courgettes really are the best raw: unpeeled, sliced into thin ribbons, marinated in lemon, chilled, tossed with crunchy nuts or almonds, with a drop of excellent olive oil and a plump raisin or two.
The longer you cook them, the more flavoursome they become: caramelised courgettes to put on pasta, omelette, chicken, pork chops or a bruschetta.
And here’s courgette as one of the mixed anchovy braised vegetables, Provençal style – an unusual and gorgeous side dish.
More summer vegetable recipes
Never discard new beetroot leaves! Cook them like spinach or chard, to make a tart filling on the zinged up pizza base. It’s an easy and unusual vegetarian tart recipe with beetroot leaves.
Broad bean and smashed pea bruschetta with herbs and garlic and a drizzle of olive oil is a starter, lunch or appetiser to kill for. And new beans need just 5 minutes to cook!
Corn ribs from the oven with homemade dukkah, just like the ones served at Ottolenghi’s Rovi. It’s totally a snack du moment – and de toujours, I hope.
*having verified, botanically – yes, yes, yes! I’m so clever!