Summer recipes: samphire and courgette flowers
A delightfully sunny weekend and an inspiring trip to Maltby Street market (about which more later..) put me right in the mood for lovely summery food using delicious in-season vegetables. I’ve written up the recipes below, let me know if you have a go making them. What’s your favourite summer food?
I’ve been looking for courgette flowers to cook with forever – even resorting to growing my own (first photo above), which seem to be coming along nicely but aren’t quite ready for full harvest yet. Luckily I found them fully grown with baby courgettes attached in Booth’s at Maltby Street. I cooked a prototype garden flower with feta only, but it was a bit overpowering. Mixing it with mozzarella makes it more mellow and adds the lovely milky chewiness of mozzarella too. I made in into a meal with some chickpeas and a tomato sauce – our local grocer has amazing beef tomatoes in at the moment which are full of flavour.
Cheese-and-mint stuffed courgette flowers with chickpeas and roast tomato sauce
Prep the courgette flowers: wash well and carefully cut out the stamen inside. Cut the courgettes off two of the flowers and slice thickly. Put a wok onto a med-high heat with about 2 inches of vegetable oil (or use a deep-fryer, if you have one).
In a bowl, mush up the mozzarella with the feta, torn mint leaves, 1 finely chopped spring onion and seasoning. Make the beer batter: tip half of the beer (should be fridge-cold) into a jug and whisk in flour gradually until you get a pretty thick batter.
Take a quarter of the filling mix, pop into each flower and twist a little to seal in. Dunk into the batter and into the wok (I fried two at a time). Turn after a few minutes until browned all over. Tip onto kitchen roll to drain a little.
Chickpeas: drain, rinse and boil the chickpeas quickly in a little veg stock to soften. Dice the halloumi and fry in olive oil with the sliced courgettes, other spring onion, and spices. Drain the chickpeas and toss in the pan of fried bits.
Tomato sauce: slice the tomato thickly, season and drizzle with olive oil and oregano leaves. Grill on maximum until bubbling. Whiz up in a processor and strain through a sieve.
I first tried samphire, a delicious salty sea vegetable, in a fabulous risotto with girolles at Malmaison but it’s not often used in vegetarian dishes – it usually pairs with fish. But it’s also a little similar to asparagus so I thought it’d go well with the same flavours – poached eggs, new potatoes and hollandaise sauce.
This dish is a lot about the cooking processes of all the ingredients, but it’s best served warm or even room temperature so you can leave things to sit as you prepare (and you can reuse the potato boiling pan for the samphire and eggs!). I served with some warm bread to mop up the hollandaise.
Samphire with new potatoes, poached egg, roasted cherry tomato and hollandaise
Halve the tomatoes, season and drizzle with olive oil and roast in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes until a little puckered and dried out.
Halve the potatoes if large and boil for 12-15 minutes until cooked through. The samphire just needs a minute or two boiling, I used the same water as the potatoes. Lightly poach the eggs in vinegared water.
For the hollandaise, I just used Delia’s recipe (half quantity for two) – I was amazed as it was my first time making it and it didn’t split or curdle.
Dress the potatoes and samphire with a little butter, pile into a bowl and top with the egg and hollandaise, with the roast tomatoes on the side.
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