Flower power: how to eat the whole courgette – recipe

Courgettes are an abundant summer vegetable that are very easy to grow (if you’re short on space, you can even grow them in garden pots). One big advantage to growing your own is that you will be able to pick and eat the brilliant yellow blossoms for free, and so celebrate this prolific vegetable in its entirety while it’s in season and affordable.

Unpicked, male courgette flowers are a wasted delicacy (only the female ones fruit), though you may also be able to buy them if you’re lucky enough to have a decent greengrocer nearby. Courgettes will keep longer if stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, while the flowers are best kept in a container in the fridge, with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.

Courgette blossom and tofu fritters
These fritters make the perfect alfresco eating. They are both umami-rich and light at the same time, and delicious hot, at room temperature or even cold. Because the courgettes are grated then cooked, this recipe is a great way to use up older, blemished specimens that no longer look their best, while the addition of the stuffed flowers make these fritters extra special. The stuffing mix will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and can be fried as needed; failing that, any leftover fritters can be easily reheated under the grill.

When picking the male flowers, make sure you leave a few on the plant to pollinate the female blossoms – male flowers grow on the end of a thin stem, while female ones start with a small bulbous courgette sticking out of their base. You can also harvest female flowers if you want to slow fruit production, because even just one plant can produce an excessive amount of fruit.

The liquid strained and squeezed out of the grated courgettes is delicious, too: drunk as it is or add to stocks and soups; I also like making courgette martinis with the liquid – mix 25ml courgette water with 25ml white vermouth and 25ml gin, shake over ice, then pour into a coupe.

Serves 6

200g courgettes
Sea salt
1 spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced
4 sprigs soft herbs (fennel dill, mint)
70g tofu, crumbled
2 tbsp wholemeal flour
1 tbsp milled flax seeds
6 courgette flowers
Light olive oil, for frying

To serve (optional)
Plain yoghurt or tzatziki (yoghurt mixed with finely chopped cucumber, garlic and lemon juice)

Grate the courgettes, season with a pinch of salt, then transfer to a colander and leave to steep for 15 minutes. Squeeze out any excess liquid, then spread out the courgette mix on one half of a clean tea towel. Fold over the other half of the tea towel, to cover, then pat dry and transfer to a bowl.

Add the spring onion and four soft herb sprigs, all finely chopped, then mix in the crumbled tofu, wholemeal flour and milled flax seeds.

Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the stuffing mixture into each courgette flower, and put any excess stuffing to one side.

Heat a glug of light olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan on a medium heat and, once hot, lay in thestuffed courgette flowers and drop large tablespoonful-sized dollops of the excess stuffing into the pan. Leave the fritters to colour on one side, then flip and caramelise on the other. Once cooked, remove from the pan and drain on a clean tea towel or kitchen paper.

Serve hot, at room temperature or cold with your choice of yoghurt or tzatziki.