Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Flo, Arthur and Elle's Tuscan Recipe 2: Courgette Flower Pasta

Twice a week at the crack of dawn Leopoldo, the local farmer) scales the hill up to Lotti and leaves us an offering from his garden. This will invariably involve a delicious supply of baby courgettes with their flowers still on, succulent,sun-ripened tomatoes and inedibly sour grapes!We (brother Arthur included here) are often looking for new ways to use these courgettes - we also grow them in Sussex - and this recipe is useful in using both flowers and vegetable. 

If you don’t grow them, they can be bought at farmers markets like the one at the end of our road in Parliament Hill. My only warning is that courgette flowers die pretty quickly after being plucked so use them the day you buy them or the day after and whatever you do, don’t refrigerate them – they just wilt – and don't eat the stamen, its a disgusting mouth full of pollen!

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

Courgette Flower Fritters:
120g courgette flowers
A handful of basil
45g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated on a rough setting
1 white
45g flour
1tbspn extra virgin olive oil
15ml water
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sunflower oil for deep-frying

400g pasta – penne or farfalle are good
80ml extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
30g red chillies, finely chopped
4 medium courgettes, coarsely grated
40g Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated

To make 12-16 fritters 

First, remove the stamen from the flowers with scissors. Discard the stem

Next snip your courgette flowers into rough little strips into a bowl.
Snip your basil up roughly too and add to the bowl
Add the roughly grated parmesan and a good sprinkling of black pepper

Now make a batter by mixing the water slowly into the flower until it forms a paste
Whisk your egg white until it is white and foamy and fold into the flour paste
Add 5 tablespoons of batter to the mix, or enough that it will form balls without being too wet
Form 12-16 balls from the mix
Heat the oil in a deep pan so that it is at least 1 ½ inches high
Get it hot to the point where a small piece of bread will instantly start bubbling away and turn golden in 30 seconds
Gently drop the balls into the oil, wearing rubber gloves in case any oil spits
Cook for 2-3 minutes until they just begin to turn golden
Remove and drain on kitchen roll to remove any excess oil
To make the pasta and sauce:
400g pasta
In salted water, boil the pasta of your choice until it’s al dente, 10-15 minutes if using dried pasta, less for fresh or egg pasta. Drain.
In a pan, melt the butter and heat the garlic and chillies. Don’t let them colour as this makes the garlic turn bitter
Add the grated courgettes and fry for a minute or two. Add the cooked pasta and season with salt and pepper.
Serve with the fritters neatly dotted around and a sprinkle of parmesan