Zucchini flower fritters

If you have zucchini plants in your garden at the moment then it’s well and truly time to enjoy both the zucchini and their flowers. The flowers should be picked early in the morning whilst they’re wide open and crisp. I only pick the male flowers which are the ones that grow on the stems of the plant (the female flowers are those attached to the zucchini themselves- they are good to use if you’re making stuffed flowers with the zucchini attached to them).

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The flowers are quite delicate so must be handled with care and they are a haven for insects so ensure that you wash them thoroughly. The stamens must be removed from the middle of the flower before you can use them.

To make these fritters really tasty you need to use a generous amount of basil, red onion, Pecorino cheese and grated zucchini (from the garden if you have them). I shallow fry them in sunflower oil as it has a high smoke point and I find much less oil is absorbed than if you were to use olive oil.

They make a great starter to any summer time meal or you can enjoy them as a snack. Try the recipe out and let me know what you think!

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Makes 20 fritters

Ingredients

15 zucchini flowers, stamens removed then thoroughly washed

1 1/2 cups basil, thoroughly washed and roughly torn up

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese

2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

2/3 cup wholemeal plain flour

1 1/3 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cup water

Sunflower oil, for shallow frying

Method

1. Gently tear the zucchini flowers into strips, then place them in a large bowl.

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2. Next add the torn up basil, the diced onion and the grated zucchini.

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3. Season with salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste, then add the grated Pecorino cheese.

4. Add the lightly beaten eggs then mix everything together with a fork to ensure that the mixture is evenly combined.

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5. Now add both types of flour along with the water and mix again with a fork until everything is thoroughly combined. The batter should be thick yet wet. If it’s dry, add a little more water but be careful not to make it runny.

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6. Once the batter is the right consistency, heat the sunflower oil in a large fry pan. You only need enough oil for shallow-frying. While it’s heating up, line a couple of large plates with paper towels.

7. Once the oil is hot enough, place spoonfuls of the batter into the oil and shape them into fritters. Try not to overcrowd the pan (I separated mine after I took this photo- it’s hard to fry things and remember to take photo’s too!)

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8. Once the bottom of the fritters are golden, flip all the fritters over and fry them until the other side is golden too.

9. When ready, quickly remove them from the fry pan and place them on the plates lined with paper towel which you prepared earlier. Cover the fritters with paper towels and gently press down on them to soak up any excess oil.

10. Repeat the above process with the remainder of the batter.

11. Allow the fritters to cool down for a minute then serve.

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*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!

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Risotto with mixed vegetables

A fresh tasting risotto which can be varied according to which vegetables you have available. Risotto is a dish which requires some TLC that’ll pay off in the end. Ready in about an hour, serves 4.

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Ingredients

1 litre vegetable stock

2.5 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

1 large garlic clove, crushed

1 cup zucchini, finely sliced

2 bunches asparagus, snap off the ends and discard, then cut them into 1cm sections until you reach the tip (keep these intact)

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 3/4 cups Arborio rice

2/3 cup white wine

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Heat the stock in a small saucepan and keep it covered, simmering gently.

2. In a heavy based saucepan, heat the olive oil, then add the onion and saute until it has slightly softened. Then add the garlic and saute until both are soft and transparent (about 1 minute).

3. Then add the zucchini and asparagus, season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes on a gentle heat. Now add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon, ensuring that it gets coated in the oil.

4. A minute or so later add the wine and stir through. Once it has evaporated, add a ladleful of the hot stock and the thawed peas. Stir the rice well and take care to ensure that it isn’t sticking at the bottom.

5. When the rice has absorbed the liquid, add another ladleful of stock and continue to stir. Continue this for the next 20 minutes or so until the rice is slightly firm yet creamy. There should be a little liquid left at this point too. If the rice is too firm, continue adding stock (or hot water if you’ve run out of stock) until it’s done.

6. Turn off the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. Divide evenly into 4 bowls and serve immediately with extra grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!