I was at the farmers' market on Saturday and did my normal freak out where I buy almost more food than I can actually carry home. But even though I had more than I needed, I couldn't pass up the zucchini flowers. Partially because they're so beautiful, but also because I love the farmer. He's the nicest guy I've ever met, always giving great advice and always selling his stuff at a reasonable price (I got 5 flowers for one dollar). The thing that kills me is that whereas other farmers bring truckloads of food to the market, he only has a few baskets, but it's always amazing quality and often times, quite intriguing. One week he was selling beautiful mature ginger and ginger leaves. This week he had zucchini and zucchini flowers.
I asked me trusty farmer how to cook them and he suggested to saute them with olive oil, even though, he said, most people like to stuff them with goat cheese. He prefers to eat them sans goat cheese, because the flower is delicate and subtle, and can be overpowered by the strong flavor of goat cheese.
Even though I love cheese, I was not discouraged, but I did take his advice to heart when searching for recipes online. I ended up with a variation of a recipe from Jamie Oliver
that uses ricotta instead of goat cheese. Instead of using mint, as Jamie suggests, I substituted sage, which goes well with winter squash and also added some soft, warm sweetness to the dish.Ingredients:
- 10 zucchini flowers
- 4 oz ricotta cheese
- 6 leaves sage, minced
- 1 chili pepper, minced
- dash nutmeg
- lemon zest of one half lemon
- salt to taste
- 2 heaping spoonfuls of flour
- 1/4 C white wine
- 2 C cooking oil
- lemon wedges
Mix the cheese with the spices and herbs.
Pull or cut the stamen out of the flower. Stuff the cheese mix into the flower gently close the flower.
Heat the oil in a deep, but narrow pan to approximately 350º F. Mix the flour, wine, and a bit of salt till it makes a batter the consistency of heavy cream (mix a little bit at a time and adjust as necessary to get the right consistency). Dip a flower into the batter, completely covering. Then allow the excess batter to drip off.
Put the flower into the hot oil. Ooooh, watch those puppies sizzle! Cook for a minute or two on each side, until golden.
Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
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