'Courgettes are one of the crops it's hard to fail with, and I've always grown a maximum of three plants to avoid being overwhelmed by them in mid summer. Last year I tried a different strategy, planting 10 plants of different varieties, but picking them when they're tiny, often with the flowers attached. There were never too many, and each is so sweet and tender that I can't wait for more to come along.' Lia Leendertz
Deep-fried courgette flowers with broad bean, pea and mint puree and basil pesto
Make the purée and the pesto ahead, and fry the courgette flowers at the last minute for a gorgeous plate full of high- summer flavours. Freshly made basil pesto is just right for a touch of something piquant and herbal among the gentler flavours. The smooth veggie purée is easy to
whizz up and complements the crunchy deep-fried parcel with its delicate morsel of courgette flowers within.
For the purée
250g broad beans, double podded* (about 1kg unpodded weight)
250g peas, podded (frozen peas thawed in a little lukewarm water will also do fine)
250g ricotta cheese
handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper
For the basil pesto
50g toasted pine nuts
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 large bunch of basil (for leaves) extra virgin olive oil
50g finely grated parmesan
For the deep-fried courgette flowers
8 courgette flowers
sunflower or vegetable oil
125g plain flour
1⁄2 tsp salt
175ml ice cold water
1 Put all the ingredients for the purée, except the lemon juice, in a bowl and whiz to a smoothish texture with a hand blender. Add the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to a day.
2 For the basil pesto, use a pestle and mortar to crush the pine nuts and garlic together. Season to taste, add the basil leaves and grind to a paste before slowly adding olive oil until you have the consistency you want. Stir in the parmesan and set aside.
3 Prepare the courgette flowers by teasing them open and pulling out the yellow stamens or style. Aim to create a completely empty space within the petals. It doesn’t matter if the flower rips a little in the process.
4 Heat the oil in a high-sided saucepan. It should fill no more than a third of the pan to allow for bubbling up. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and whisk in the water.
5 When the oil is ready (a cube of bread will fizz and go brown), dip the flowers into the batter and lower into the oil. Fry up to three at a time for 1–2 minutes, until golden brown on one side, then flip over and brown the other side. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately.
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