Until now I’ve only ever come across courgette flowers on my trips to Italy, so when I saw them on an organic veg stall at my local Brockley Market, I just had to buy them and come up with a exciting recipe for them. I don’t know why they aren’t more readily available in the UK – surely every courgette harvested comes with a flower attached? It breaks my heart to think that these could be discarded since they aren’t popular or current ‘on trend’ greengrocer fare. The flower heads were hideously expensive at 4 flowers for £2. This could be because they were organic and from a farmers market, but since I have no supermarket comparison I can only compare them to how much they cost in Italy (my uncle who lives there was horrified when I said how much I had paid for them!) Oh well… researching recipes and subsequently cooking with them made me imagine for a milli-second that I was in sunnier Italian climes, and they were blooming (pardon the pun) delicious, so who cares!
I remember having them a couple of times in Italy- stuffed with a mixture of veg and rice, perhaps some cheese, and also on a Biancaneve (all cheese no tomato, it literally translates as ‘Snow White’) based pizza, with anchovies. In fact I remember this pizza experience so vividly since I absolutely hate anchovies and had no idea they were on the pizza – had taken my chances with a bit of menu spin the bottle – never a good idea. I tried to pick them all off, but just ended up with a messy cheese pizza, which still stunk of salty fish. Ew…
Anyway… For my recipe, I went along with the stuffed idea, but obviously wanted to create something without the rice or cheese. I therefore and set about to create a pesto inspired pate stuffing, using mushrooms as the bulky filler. This was a lot of work for a little side dish, but well worth the fun, and of course, the taste.
(makes 4 flowers, can be served as a starter or an accompaniment to a main)
- 200g Chestnut Mushrooms
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Tablespoon pine nuts
- large handful of fresh basil leaves (about 40 leaves)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- Tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- 4 courgette flowers
- Sauté mushrooms in a little olive oil till browned and softened, add pine nuts and saute for a further minute. Remove from heat.
- Blend the mushroom/pine nut mix with the basil, garlic, tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice in a food processor and season.
- Remove the stamens from the flowers. Gently open the flower and spoon in around a tablespoon of the pate into each flower head, twist the leaves to seal, place on a baking tray and drizzle (I use a spray canister) with olive oil.
- Bake in the oven at 160 degrees C for around 20-25 mins. I kept the temperature low as I didn’t want to burn them.