Cooking with courgette flowers is still such a novelty for me since, unless you grow your own, they're not so easy to come by in the UK. Well, not in Lincolnshire at least! For those of you who have never had the pleasure of eating courgette flowers, I have to say that in terms of flavour you've not missed out on much, but what I love about them is that, no matter how they are prepared, they always look exquisite and are such a versatile receptacle for showcasing great flavour and texture combinations. This summer we grew courgettes in our garden in Pisa and my Italian family's preferred method of preparation was stuffing the flowers with mozzarella and anchovies, then battering and frying them to create the most gorgeous, colourful and crunchy antipasti which brightened up many a mid-week lunchtime!
Photo by Beth Young
Having bought some courgette flowers myself this week, I decided to try something new and which didn't involve battering since, unlike my Italian 'mother-in-law', I rarely have the patience required for deep fat frying things on a week day! Instead, I decided to experiment with oven-baking my flowers and after rummaging through the fridge for inspiration, I came up with my delicious and very simple spin on stuffed courgette flowers using a soft Italian cheese called Robiola. Unless you're living in London, and willing to pay well over the odds, you may struggle to source this particular cheese but anything mild and creamy should do the trick, Philadelphia would probably work equally well! So here they are, my oven-baked courgette flowers...
Photos by Beth Young
Fiori di Zucca Ripieni al Forno
Serves 6 as a side dish
- Olive oil
- 12 courgette flowers
- 1 medium courgette
- 100g Parma ham
- 200g Robiola or similar
- 1 ball of mozzarella
- 100g parmesan cheese
- 400ml Béchamel sauce (not too thick)
- Salt and pepper
Remove the yellow stigma from inside the courgette flowers and, if still attached, snap off the stems at the bottom too.
Roughly chop the courgette and Parma ham and pan fry in the olive oil over a medium-low heat until the courgette is soft. Transfer to a blender and blend the courgette, ham, robiola and mozzarella to a smooth paste, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Gently open the flowers and stuff them with a large teaspoon of the robiola puree. A piping bag would be ideal for this step however I used a teaspoon and it worked just fine. Lay the stuffed flowers in a baking dish and cover with a plain béchamel sauce (Delia Smith's all-in-one recipe is perfect for this) until the flowers are evenly coated.
Sprinkle with parmesan and bake in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes or until the parmesan is bubbling and golden. I served ours with some very simple grilled chicken and a rocket salad, but feel free to use your imagination!
Photo by Beth Young
For more recipes like this one check out my blog: Mozzarella Diaries
Or find me on Facebook
Follow Beth Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BethYoung