This dish is definitely summer. Courgette flowers are an indulgent ingredient in that they are picked early, when they could be left to grow into full size courgettes. When I see them I want to cook with them, stuffed and deep fried in a light crispy batter. Usually I’ll stuff with feta, dill and parsley but I thought crab meat might make a new and exciting filling. I ended up with too much filling so used the rest in ravioli (and some more the next day in sandwiches) and it all went very well together. The dressing cuts through perfectly and some gently cooked new season broad beans and fresh peas complete the dish.
Of course, you don’t have to serve them together, but if you do you’ll need to cook the ravioli and flowers at the same time.
4 courgette flowers with baby courgettes attached; 2 tbsp cornflour; 1 egg white; 4 tbsp plain flour; sparkling mineral water; sea salt flakes
Meat (white and brown) of 1 large crab; 4 tbsp thick fresh cream; 1 tbsp chopped chives; salt and ground white pepper; 1 egg yolk
1 egg yolk; at least 150 g ‘00’ pasta flour; 1 whole egg
4 tbsp olive oil; 1 tbsp lemon juice; finely chopped zest of ½ lemon; olive oil
To make the pasta, get the flour in a big pile on a work surface and make a well in the centre big enough to hold the egg and 1 yolk. Break the egg into the well, add the yolk and beat gently with a fork. Now bring the flour from the outside into the eggs and start to mix. Keep mixing until you have a good dough that is just tacky. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until elastic. Wrap in cling film and set aside for at least 10 minutes.
For the filling, whisk up one egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix well the crab meat, cream and chives and season with a little salt and white pepper and gently fold in the egg yolk. Using a teaspoon gently push about 2 tsp of filling into each courgette flower. Place in the fridge.
To make the batter, mix a little cornflour with some sparkling water to make paste, then mix in the rest of the cornflour, the plain flour and some more water to a consistency of thick paint. Whisk up the egg whites until fluffy but not forming peaks. Just before battering the flowers gently fold the egg whites in with the rest of the batter.
For the dressing mix together olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest and season to taste. Set aside.
When the dough has rested, get your pasta machine ready. Pull off a walnut sized piece of dough and pass it back and forth through the machine on its thickest setting at least six times. Now pass the sheet of pasta through the machine on the next thinnest setting. Repeat until you have a sheet of pasta run though on the thinnest setting. Set aside on a floured surface or clean, dry tea towel. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
Get a very large pan of water boiling vigorously and add salt (one teaspoon salt per 600ml).
Place a sheet of pasta on a floured surface and make indentations at least 6cm apart along it. Place a level tablespoon of filling on each of the indents then brush lines of water between each. Take another sheet of dough and place this on top as evenly as possible. Push down between the fillings and then either side. Before sealing the final side push any air out from around the filling and between the sheets. Cut out your ravioli.
Get a pan of oil or deep fryer to a medium heat.
Batter the flowers: First fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter. Dust each flower with flour then dip into the batter and cover well. Place each flower into the oil. Cook until golden then drain and sprinkle with sea salt.
Place the ravioli into the salted boiling water and cook for a maximum of four minutes. Drain well.
Arrange the ravioli and courgette flowers on a plate, with some leaves or cooked fresh broad beans and peas, and sprinkle over the dressing.