Nigel Slater's classic Fiori Fritti recipe

The recipe

To make the batter, sift 100g of plain flour into a large basin then add 2 tbsp of sunflower oil and 175ml sparkling water, beating slowly to a thick paste. Just before you fry the courgette flowers, beat an egg white till almost stiff then fold gently into the batter. Warm plenty of groundnut oil in a deep pan. Wipe 8 large courgette flowers tenderly to remove any aphids or dust. Pull out the stamens but leave the stems attached.

Test the oil to make sure it is hot enough – it should send a cube of bread golden in a few seconds – then dip the courgette flowers into the batter and then lower a few at a time into the hot oil. Fry for 3 or 4 minutes till the batter is pale gold and crisp, turning them occasionally as they fry. Drain on kitchen paper. Eat the fritters while hot and crisp, scattered with coarse sea salt. You will need 2 or 3 each.

The trick

You need the large male flowers. Speed, rather than technique, is the crux of the matter. Pick your flowers early in the day, when they are freshest. Brush away any insects. Only immerse in cold water if absolutely necessary. Set the batter aside for 30 minutes.

The twist

Courgette flowers are even more interesting when stuffed. Ricotta cheese is a favourite; anchovies are a popular seasoning for ricotta, as is garlic or chopped olives. Breadcrumbs are often a substitute for cheese, or try using chopped spinach or beet instead. My favourite involves stuffing the flowers with goat's curd, grated lemon zest and basil.

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