À Table: Aunt Janine’s Fleurs de Courgette Farcie




From a culinary point of view zucchinis or courgettes are treated as vegetables, but they are in fact a fruit. Here French News Online nature, garden and food correspondent Mike Alexander takes readers into his Aunt Janine’s kitchen for a first-hand look at how to cook with the flowers of this well known legume err… fruit.

Courgette flowers on sale at a market on the Cote d Azur (Credit Mike Alexander)

Courgette flowers on sale at a market on the Cote d Azur (Credit Mike Alexander)

People often ask what the difference is between a zucchini and a courgette. In fact they are the same thing but the word zucchini has its roots in Italy and courgette is a diminutive of the French word for a squash –a courge. A marrow is just a courgette that has been allowed to grow to maturity.

Whatever name you prefer, this very popular and easily-grown vegetable is a member of the Curcubita pepo family and had its origins in the Americas. It was likely the Italians who first introduced them to Europe and it was certainly the Italians who first hybridized them into some of the many forms we have today including the striped and bright yellow varieties. They were only reintroduced from Italy to the US fairly recently where further modification gave us the round variety known in the US as the eight ball.

Courgette flowers on the Nice market  (Credit Mike Alexander)

Courgette flowers on the Nice market (Credit Mike Alexander)

Although from a culinary point of view we treat them as vegetables they are actually a fruit. In France they are one of the prime ingredients of ratatouille while in South Africa they are often harvested when still finger-sized and sold as baby marrows.

Growing them is simple in the more temperate regions in France and they are a fairly trouble-free crop to produce, even for the small-time gardener. They will tolerate being grown in large pots or grow bags and can be attractive on a balcony or a terrace though they do require about a square metre of space when they reach their largest size.

Courgettes do not like their roots to dry out so be prepared to water them well and mulch with compost when necessary. If they show signs of suffering from water stress – developing a powdery mildew — treat this with a vegetable soap and water, which, if applied in sufficient quantities, should resolve the issue.

One of the courgettes’ advantages is it prodigious production. Normally they are harvested when they are around 10-20 cms in length and will need picking at least twice a week. If just one fruit makes it to marrow size and develops seed they stop any further cropping. Their prolific output means gardeners with several plants soon find themselves facing a courgette glut, normally at around the same time as their gardening neighbours also hit the saturation level so try as you might there will be few takers if you try to palm yours off next door. Freezing is an option as is ratatouille but an even more refined use  and one that is a specialty for the Nicoise, is to pick the flowers and cook with them.

Courgette flowers served with salad  (Credit Mike Alexander)

Courgette flowers served with salad (Credit Mike Alexander)

As the flowers turn yellow they are harvested and found at many of the markets along the Coté de Azur in season . Naturally nearby restaurants, also offer them as a delicacy. The flowers are not cheap but as they will not only prolong your harvest season while providing an unusual dinner treat its worth finding or growing some … then you have a good excuse to try my Nicoise Aunt Janine’s very own recipe below:

Preparing courgette flowers in the Nicoise style , here is Aunt Janine using up some of her garden crop (Credit Mike Alexander)

Fleurs de Courgette Farcie
10 Courgette flowers
1 White Onion boiled 5 to 6mins then drained
200gm Veal/Ham
Egg + 1 Garlic clove + Parsley + 150gm Parmesan cheese
Put the onion, meat, egg, garlic , parsley and cheese in a mixer and whiz
Add pepper and fill the flowers carefully with the mix
Place in an oven dish, no oil needed
Cook in a 180°C oven until golden brown; if they start drying up too quickly add a little water.
Serve with a simple tomato and basil sauce.

 

 

Writer: Mike Alexander
mike@mikealexander.fr
Follow Mike on Twitter 

About Mike’s regular column the Grumpy Gardener
Our Grumpy Gardener has been gardening professionally in France for more years than he cares to remember and before that in Africa and the UK. Today he happily shares his expertise with French News Online readers. Mike also contributes regular pieces about nature, the environment and French food. A selection of his published work can be found below.

triangle down21 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan

 

Previously – click an image below
wisteria alba 1501 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
honey bee 1501 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
Prune for Results
A World Without Bees?
apple tree fruit 1501 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
prize winning rose 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
Fruit Tree Pruning
Wars of the Roses
forsythia 1501 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
cistus salvifolius 1501 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
Prune When Finished
Herald of Spring…
cherries tree 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
lavandula angustifolia 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
You’ve got to be quick!
Un-thirsty Lavender
nettles 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
star jasmine 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
Grasp the Nettle
Star Jasmine – Madrid
stachys byzantina 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
autumn arrives 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
Jihad – on Bunnies Ears
Autumn Arrives
wellies 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
newton gravity 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
Designer Chic?
Gravity – not to be ignored!
snowdrops 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
habenero 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
If Winter Comes….
Hottest chilli in the world
daffodils 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
irises 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
Dog Days…
Fleur de Lys
marqueyssac hedges 01 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan
To read a previous article
– click an image –
Hedge Your Bets
www.french-news-online.com

blue31 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan

blue111 The Grumpy Gardener – The Rose Of Japan

 

Related articles

 

 



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to our RSS feed!