For as long as I can remember courgette flowers have been one the main protagonists of the Roman food scene. Yes, their pistils and stamens need to be meticulously removed before you can eat them, but don’t be put off. Beyond their apparently hard-to-handle appearance, these delectable blossoms are soft yet crunchy, perfectly suited for frying as well as for making a delicious pizza topping. In this recipe they are stuffed with a mix of glorious cheeses. Accompany the stuffed flowers with a glass of Chianti for a perfect little starter.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
extra virgin olive oil, for greasing
12 large courgette flowers
250g (9oz) ricotta cheese
100g (31/2oz) Taleggio, Fontina or other semi-soft cheese
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
50g (13/4oz) Breadcrumbs (see below)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4. Lightly oil a large baking tray.
Using a sharp knife, cut away any bumpy growths around the base of the
courgette flower and trim away the majority of the stem, leaving about 1cm
(1/2 inch) attached (this will not only help keep the flowers together but
will also look pretty). Gently cut open the courgette flowers lengthways,
being careful not to break them, and remove the stamens or pistils.
Alternatively, instead of cutting open the flowers, gently peel apart the
petals, being careful not to tear them.
In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, Taleggio, nutmeg and white pepper
with half of the Parmesan and season with salt.
Using either a piping bag or a teaspoon, carefully fill the courgette flowers
with the cheese mixture. Close the flowers, twisting the ends of the petals
to seal, then transfer to the prepared baking tray. Scatter over the
breadcrumbs and the remaining Parmesan and bake in the oven for
5 minutes until the courgette flowers are lightly golden. Serve warm.
I like to mix different odds and ends of bread in my breadcrumbs, to make them more
colourful and tasty.
Preparation time: 30 seconds
Makes 400g (14oz)
200g (7oz) stale bread
200g (7oz) stale breadsticks or crackers
1 teaspoon dried sage
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend together for 30
seconds or until they reach the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Store in
an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Extract taken from As The Romans Do by Eleonora Galasso, available here