‘I love whipping up this simple recipe when the garden is blooming. Now is the season for edible flowers-courgette, rose, borage, nasturtium-and the more I use them in my cooking, the more I plan for them in our small kitchen garden. They look glorious, and I love the way their flavours carry through to the food. Courgettes are said to have originally come from Mexico, where you can buy enormous sackfuls of their flowers for very little-not bad when you consider that they can cost a few pounds each over here. If they’re unavailable, make do with rocket, cress or mustard leaf in this recipe. It really tastes of summer, and feels light and healthy (despite all the delicious olive oil and Parmesan). Bon appetit!’
Spaghetti with ricotta and courgette flowers
Extract from Thomasina Miers’s Wahaca: Mexican Food at Home
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
60g blanched almonds
120ml olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium courgettes, roughly sliced
Glass of dry, fruity white wine (a dryish Chardonnay or Burgundy works well)
Zest and juice of one lime
150g ricotta cheese
1 heaped tablespoon of grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
Handful each of chervil and basil, finely chopped
Handful of courgette flowers, nasturtium flowers and leaves, or rocket leaves
Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan or warm oven (140˚C/275˚F/gas mark 1) until they are pale golden, then set aside. Roughly chop them when they have cooled a little. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add half the olive oil. Add the onion and turn the heat down a little so it sweats slowly in the oil. After a few minutes, add the garlic and half the chilli, and season generously with salt and pepper. If the chilli is mild, you can add the rest later on, if you wish.
When the onions and garlic have sweated for about 10 minutes, add the courgettes and another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Season again if necessary. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes before adding the wine, lime zest and juice. Cook with the lid on for about 15-20 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the courgettes have collapsed into a silky soft heap. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of well salted, boiling water until al dente.
Stir the ricotta, Parmesan, remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and all but a sprinkling of the herbs into the courgette mixture, then gently toss in the flowers, saving a few for garnish. Drain the pasta and drizzle with a little extra olive oil. Toss with the courgette mixture and taste for seasoning.
Serve sprinkled with the remaining herbs, reserved flowers, some extra Parmesan and the toasted almonds.
Note: This makes a delicious supper, but can also be a very pretty starter.