Battered Zucchini flowers with Halloumi
Battered Zucchini flowers with Halloumi
Battered zucchini flowers with halloumi is a dish my grandmother used to make for us when the zucchini flowers were in season. I can picture her in the kitchen as I’m writing this, over the stove using her small frying pan and her fingertips covered with batter. It was always an absolute treat eating these hot and biting into the warm halloumi. The perfect appetizer or meze dish!
To create these battered zucchini flowers stuffed with halloumi I was very grateful to be given some of my father-in-law’s homegrown crop. Otherwise, you may speak with your local grocer to try and order them for you. We’ve had them in abundance this season and we’ve definitely enjoyed them in a number of ways besides this recipe. For example, scrambled with halloumi for breakfast or stuffed with a herby rice mixture for dinner.
My father-in-law gave me a quick gardening lesson when I was at his house. He says that the zucchini flowers that don’t stem off zucchini are considered to be “male” and that the ones that do stem off the zucchini (marrow) are considered “female”. That is important to know when it comes to cross-pollination and ensuring that the zucchini plants are able to grow plentifully.
HOW TO CLEAN ZUCCHINI FLOWERS
Zucchini flowers are quite delicate as they are thin and can easily tear. Therefore, as you handle them take extra care. There are three parts that need to be removed when cleaning them: the stem, sepal and pistil. The zucchini flowers need a short cooking time for this recipe hence the pistil is removed as it may be a bit bitter. Though when I stuff them with rice, due to the longer cooking time, I tend to not remove the pistil as it cooks through and it is not as bitter.
THE BATTER USED
The batter I use for the zucchini flowers includes some very basic ingredients. The combination of the self-raising flour with the mineral water creates an airy result. I like to add fine semolina as I find it adds an extra crunch in comparison to when I add just self-raising flour.
The final result of the batter should not be too thick or very runny. The zucchini flowers are quite thin so you don’t want to cover it with a very thick layer of batter as the flavour will not be well balanced. At the same time, if it’s too thin the texture might not be too crisp and it is definitely messier. You can see below a quick reel of how I made it and the viscosity of the batter.
HOW TO COOK THE BATTERED ZUCCHINI FLOWERS
Ideally to cook the battered zucchini flowers you should deep fry or shallow fry. Baking is definitely not recommended for this kind of dish as the cooking needs to be quick. The oil needs to be quite hot, so especially when deep frying I use vegetable oil otherwise when shallow frying I use extra virgin olive oil. To check the readiness of the oil, drip a little bit of the batter in the oil and the batter should sizzle and rise to the surface.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Resting time 30 mins
Servings: 16 pieces
• ¾ cup self-raising flour, 135g
• ¼ cup fine semolina, 50g
• ¾ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp black pepper
• 1 cup mineral water, room temperature, 250mL
• 16 large zucchini flowers
• 200 g "Olympus cheese" halloumi
• 16 large fresh mint leaves
• Oil for frying
1. Prepare the batter first by whisking all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then slowly pour the mineral water and continue whisking. Allow it to rest for at least 30min, covered at room temperature.
2. Clean the zucchini flowers by carefully cutting off the stem, removing the sepal around and using your fingers or kitchen tweezers to cut off the pistil inside the flower. Run water through each of the flowers, shake off the excess water and then allow them to dry on some paper towel. Wash and dry the fresh mint leaves also.
3. Use a paper towel to dry the whey off the halloumi. Half the halloumi along the fold to separate the two rectangular pieces. Cut the halloumi in sticks along the width or length to produce 16 pieces – about 8cm long. Keep in mind, the length and size vary based on the halloumi you have available at your supermarket and the size of the zucchini flowers.
4. To deep fry the zucchini flowers add at least 5cm of neutral oil in a pot and allow it to reach high to medium heat. Otherwise, you may wait until you fill all the zucchini flowers to heat a frying pan with extra virgin olive oil for shallow frying.
5. In the meantime, prepare the zucchini flowers. Hold a zucchini flower open, add a halloumi stick and a mint leaf. Fold the petals over to fully enclose the filling inside and set aside on a plate. Repeat the process until all the zucchini flowers are filled.
6. Check to see if the oil is ready by dripping some batter inside, if it starts bubbling straight away then it is ready. Hold the zucchini flowers from the petals to ensure they are sealed, dip into the batter and allow the excess batter to drip off before adding it to the oil.
7. Frying the zucchini flowers only takes about 3min, turn over once one side is golden brown. Batter and fry only a few zucchini flowers at a time. Use a strainer over a bowl to allow the cooked zucchini flowers to rest and the excess oil to drip away. Continue the process until all the zucchini flowers are done. Serve with some lemon and enjoy warm.