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Polenta, grilled courgettes, onions, herbs, leaves & their flowers, by Ox Barn, Thyme

Cook at Home

Fresh and vibrant, this delectable recipe is the centrepiece of the summer lunch menu in the Ox Barn, celebrating the edible flowers and herbs growing in abundance in our gardens this summer. A pick of the edible flowers you may well have in your garden: Calendula flowers, Marigold flowers, Cowslips, Cornflower, Viola, Allium, Borage.



Prep Time

60 mins

Cooking Time

40 mins


For the polenta

  • 600ml water
  • 100g polenta (NB check the cooking instructions on the packet as not all polentas are born equal!)
  • 60g Parmesan, freshly grated
  • olive oil for cooking
  • sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

For the courgettes and onions

  • 4 courgettes, sliced into 1cm rounds
  • 4 onions (Roscoff or similar)
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • ½ lemon juice
  • olive oil for cooking
  • vegetable oil for cooking
  • sea salt flakes

For the leaves and flowers

  • 2 bunches of watercress
  • 1 bunch mint (approx. 25g), leaves picked, stems discarded
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley (approx. 25g), leaves picked, stems discarded
  • ½ bunch of lovage (approx. 12g), leaves picked, stems discarded
  • 1 bunch of chives + chive flowers (approx. 25g), finely chopped
  • 15 nasturtium leaves and flowers
  • 25ml olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice



  • Cut the onions in half from root to tip, making sure you don’t peel them.
  • Place them on a baking tray cut side down, dress with olive oil and salt and put them into the oven for 20 minutes until caramelised and cooked through.
  • Place a pan over a medium heat, allowing it to get nice and hot before you start cooking.
  • Dress the courgettes in a good drizzle of vegetable oil, ensuring they’re completely coated. Fry them in batches, ensuring they cook in one even layer.
  • Once browned on each side set them aside in a tray, dressed in the olive oil, lemon zest and half the lemon juice.

To make the polenta

  • Bring the water to the boil with a good glug of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Gently pour the polenta in a stream into the water, while constantly whisking.
  • As the polenta begins to thicken, turn the temperature right down and whisk periodically to prevent it catching on the bottom.
  • Allow it to cook for 5-20 minutes (the cooking time will depend on the quality of the polenta that you have bought and whether it is quick cook or not – your pack will come with instructions).
  • If you need to add more water or polenta to get to the correct consistency, go ahead. It should be almost porridge like, holding its shape without being stiff and rigid.
  • Stir through the Parmesan at the end and take it off the heat.

To make the salad

  • Make the salad by putting the watercress, herbs and flowers in a bowl.
  • Dress the salad in olive oil and lemon and gently toss.
  • Take a large spoonful of polenta and put in the middle of each plate. Scatter over the courgettes and two onion halves, before tumbling the herb salad over the top.

Ox Barn, Thyme, Southrop Manor Estate, Gloucestershire

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