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Packed lunch ideas No.1 – Beignets de Courgette

So with Louis back to school and with the ‘règles sanitaires’ in place there are some changes that we need to adapt to. One of which being a packed lunch and a days worth of ‘goûter’ (snacks). Packed lunches are pretty much unheard of here in France, we pay for his lunches but everyday he gets an organic 4-course lunch and healthy mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks! So, for now, packed lunches are very exciting for Louis as it is something out of the ordinary. Coupled with the fact that the only isotherme bag that I had was a luxury picnic rucksack that I was given at some corporate do back in London. I think he might be the only child with space for his bottle of wine, but then this is France…..

Beignets de courgette

Whilst a sandwich is fine, if not delicious, from time to time it is not great to have every day. There are so many things that kids can have and especially if they enjoy food. At this time of year without doubt Louis’ favourite thing is Gazpacho*, it is easy to make and easy to eat. Just decant into a bottle or thermos and make sure that it is shaken before being drunk as the solids and liquid tend to separate, and as long as it is kept chilled that is all you need to do. Packed full of vitamins, filling, refreshing and delicious. Liquid salad and you can adapt it to suit your child’s tastes and what is in season.

However the other day I made these beignets (fritters) and as I always make more than we three can eat in one setting I put a few aside for Louis lunch as they are just as tasty cold as they are warm. They are very easy to make and again very adaptable. There is a little bit of faff in the prep, but it isn’t skilled or complicated, and totally worth it.

Ingredients:

2 large courgettes (roughly 500g in weight)

150g chickpea flour

150g fresh goats cheese, I use Carrus’ fresh goats cheese (can be substituted with any creamy cheese but watch the salt content with more processed versions)

2 tbsp grated hard cheese (brebis, parmesan, cheddar)

1 large handful chopped mixed herbs (whatever is in season and fresh. I used a combination of mint, parsley, basil, chive and garlic leaves)

salt and pepper to taste

paprika or piment d’Espelette (depending on your child’s tolerance to spice)

Method:

  1. Into a clean tea towel grate the courgettes.
  2. Then into the mixing bowl that you are going to use to prepare the beignets, twist the tea towel and squeeze out as much of the courgette water as you can.
  3. Add the chickpea flour and mix into a paste, you may need to top up with water depending on how watery the courgettes were. The batter should be Greek yoghurt thickness.
  4. Add the cheeses, seasoning, herbs and spices.
  5. Add the courgettes and combine thoroughly.
  6. The batter should be ‘soft’, meaning that it will hold its form on a spoon but isn’t stiff. Adjust with water or flour if need be.
  7. Let to sit for half an hour. You can make it in advance and cover and put in the fridge of you like.
  8. In a deep pan heat your frying oil, a good 5 cm depth, until hot. Always test by adding a piece of bread first, the bread will float to the top and brown if at the right heat.
  9. Then taking two dessert spoons shape the beignets into quenelles and fry. Don’t worry if they are not perfect, these are supposed to be rustic but I do find that forming into quenelles is actually easier than just dolloping a spoonful into the fat as the latter tends to disintegrate and is harder to cook. Also, do try and keep them roughly the same size for ease of cooking.
  10. Once the beignets have started to brown flip them over with a slotted spoon. Try not to overcrowd the pan, 4 – 5 at a time is good and they should take a couple of minutes each side. Note: if you add cold batter to the oil it will bring the temperature down so you need to give it a moment in between batches to get the temperature level back up each time.
  11. Once cooked remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper. If you are eating straight away put the oven on and keep the cooked beignets warm in the oven until ready to serve.
  12. I like to serve with my radish leaf pesto, a tomato salad and the courgette carpaccio and a squeeze of lemon.

On Friday the 12th of June I am doing an Instagram Live with Honor Davies Marks @maisondelaroche where we will be tasting two Laurent Miquel aromatic white wines – Alabrino from Lagrasse and the Solas Viognier. I shall make a batch of these as I think the Albarino in particular will be delicious with these beignets.

  • Get your copy of A Taste of Le Sud here for the gazpacho and courgette carpaccio recipes.

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