It’s not easy to buy courgette flowers, but they are becoming more widely available. If you are growing your own courgettes, you’ll want to try this dish. The addition of ricotta and herbs just makes the flowers a bit more substantial.
1. First make the batter. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the olive oil into the well, then mix the oil and flour together while slowly adding the warm water. Mix until the batter is smooth with the consistency of double cream. Set aside.
2. Combine the ricotta and basil and season with salt and pepper. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
3. Put a deep pan containing the sunflower oil on to heat to 180°C. Preheat a warm oven.
4. Meanwhile, fill the courgette flowers: make a small hole in the side of each flower and gently pipe in some ricotta mix. Don’t overfill the flower or it will burst during frying.
5. When the oil is nearly up to temperature, in another bowl whisk the egg white to soft peaks, then carefully fold into the batter.
6. Fry the flowers a few at a time so the pan isn’t crowded: dip them (and their courgettes) into the batter and knock off any excess batter, then add to the hot oil. Deep-fry for about 3 minutes until crisp and light brown all over. Drain on kitchen paper and keep hot in the oven while cooking the rest of the batches. Serve hot with lemon wedges and sea salt.
This is an edited extract from My Simple Italian by Theo Randall (Ebury Press, £25).