One stop on our summer holiday included a visit with family in the French countryside. Behind their home, they look after a very large veg patch full of tomatoes, squash, aubergine, melon, pumpkins, corn, lettuce, herbs. Their lush and beautiful crop made my little urban plot seem like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of veg patches. No matter. I’m not the jealous type. As they say, when life give you, um, courgette flowers, make something delicious. Even if they are from someone else’s garden.
This was actually my husband’s inspired idea. While helping with the garden chores, he realised that there were nearly twenty beautiful blossoms on the courgette plants and squash vines. This in addition to the courgette already fully ripened and ready to eat. Seriously, these courgette were the as long as my forearm and as heavy as a small child. So our lunch idea would also serve as a much needed crop reduction. (He grew up on a farm. He is very clever.)
He asked if the flowers were the same kind they use at the Salt Yard for that amazing fried courgette blossom dish? Yes. Did they teach me how to do that in school? No, but we can wing it. And use Google. And let’s just say that a crunchy, creamy, salty and sweet courgette recipe was an easy sell.
First stop, this video of Ben Tish making his signature courgette blossoms from Salt Yard and its sister restaurants, Dehesa and Opera Tavern. Assured that this was completely do-able, we headed to the market to buy local goat cheese. My husband harvested about a dozen various squash and courgette blossoms, a few even had the lovely little baby squash attached. We cleaned them and stuffed them as instructed. But, because I honestly couldn’t be bothered to deep fry anything on a hot hot afternoon, we tossed the flowers in an egg wash and breadcrumbs and baked them in the oven.
The result was sophisticated and elegant, but easy. This is an impressive starter for a summer dinner party. The flowers can be stuffed ahead of time, and they held well in the warming oven. The honey is an inspired addition integral to the Salt Yard version – it is subtle and unexpected but complements the saltiness and dryness of the goat cheese well and enhances the subtle floral notes of the blossom.
Side note: If you haven’t had the signature Salt Yard courgette blossoms, you are missing out. They are filled with delicious Spanish Monte Enebro, fried in a light tempura batter and served piping hot. Probably the best version of this dish I’ve had. If you don’t want to make it at home, Tish’s are the ones to try.
Oven-Baked Courgette Blossoms
Ideally, each person would be served two courgette blossoms, but they can be expensive and fragile. They could be stretched further by serving one blossom with a salad and baked courgette croutons prepared the same way as the blossoms.
Courgette blossoms, with or without baby courgette attached
Good quality goat cheese, 1 oz will fill 2-3 blossoms, must be firm enough so that it doesn’t melt, but not so dry that it falls apart
At least two eggs, beaten
1 cup or so of good quality breadcrumbs
1-2 teaspoons of honey
Measure out a rounded tablespoon (~10g) of cheese and gently shape it into a ball. (Adjust as necessary for the size of your blossoms). Nestle the cheese in the center of the blossom and gently twist the petals to make a parcel. They do not need to be sealed tight. Blossoms can be kept wrapped in the fridge for a few hours.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Place beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in two shallow dishes.
Gently spin each stuffed flower in the beaten egg, allowing any excess egg to drain off. Toss through breadcrumbs to coat evenly. Place on baking sheet. If you have the baby courgette, cut a small slit through the bottom to help them cook, but otherwise bread them in the same fashion as the blossom.
Once all blossoms are stuffed and coated, bake tray in a 350F/180C oven for 10-15 minutes. They are done when the coating is crisped and they are warm through.
Serve immediately drizzled with a small amount of honey.