These crunchy, oozing deep-fried zucchini flowers are usually served as part of a mezze selection, but are sophisticated enough to act as a stand-alone starter if you’re planning a formal dinner party
• 8 baby zucchini with blossoms attached
• plain flour, for dusting
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten with a little water
• vegetable oil, for deep-frying
• olive oil, for deep-frying
• sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• purple basil leaves, to serve (optional)
• lemon wedges, to serve
For the olive-brioche crumbs:
• 100g brioche
• 12 kalamata olives, pitted, rinsed, dried and finely diced
• 1 teaspoon za’atar
• 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
For the haloumi, mint and ginger stuffing:
• 100g haloumi, grated
• 50g mozzarella, grated
• 1 small garlic clove, crushed with ½ teaspoon sea salt
• generous pinch ground cardamom
• generous grind black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
• 2 tablespoons finely shredded flat-leaf parsley leaves
• 1 heaped teaspoon finely chopped mint leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1 To make the olive-brioche crumbs, put the brioche in the bowl of a food processor and whiz to fine breadcrumbs. Tip into a mixing bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Set aside.
2 To make the stuffing, combine the haloumi and mozzarella with the garlic paste, spices, fresh ginger and herbs.
3 Carefully open each zucchini blossom and pinch out the stamen. Roll a lump of the cheese stuffing into a thumb-sized sausage shape and gently stuff it into the blossom. Twist the top of the flower to seal. Repeat with the remaining zucchinis.
4 Set up a little production line of flour, egg wash and the crumb mixture. Dust each zucchini flower lightly with flour, then dip it into the egg and, finally, gently roll it in the crumbs to create an even coating.
5 When ready to cook, pour equal quantities of vegetable and olive oil into a deep-fryer or saucepan to a depth of around 8 cm and heat to 190°C.
6 Fry the zucchini blossoms a few at a time for 2–3 minutes, or until the crumbs turn crisp and golden. Turn them around in the oil to ensure they colour evenly all over.
7 Drain them on kitchen paper, season lightly, and serve piping hot with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, a handful of herbs and lemon wedges.
Recipe courtesy of Greg Malouf, extracted from New Feast