It has been far too long since my last post but I assure you – I am back!
They say that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Well life has handed me a s*#t load of lemons lately! But only recently have I started to enjoy the lemonade…..with vodka. Anyways……
A couple of months ago I got back into the kitchen, teaching workshops and catering but it’s taken me a bit longer to return to my blog. But, oh how I have missed it!
What inspired me to finally dig out my camera and laptop were these gorgeous flowers which have started appearing in markets everywhere in the south of France as well as in my own garden.
Zucchini blossoms, or courgette flowers – depending on which side of the pond you live – are not as common in the US as they are here in the Mediterranean. But I’m hoping my readers can find them in local farmers markets or finally make use of those pretty little flowers sprouting from your own zucchini plants. They are worth the hunt – trust me.
These little blossoms are delicious when fried in a light batter all on their own but what isn’t better when stuffed with cheese? (sushi, for one, – but don’t get me started on all the reasons why Philadelphia doesn’t belong in sushi!) Courgette flowers, however, are perfect little parcels waiting to be stuffed. And this recipe takes the cake, in my opinion, on how to stuff a zucchini blossom. The creaminess of ricotta pairs perfectly with the light and crispy tempura-like batter. The acidity of the tomato and olive salsa mellows out the richness of the flowers and leaves the whole dish tasting vibrant and fresh.
So head to your local farmer’s market or vegetable shop and give these little flowers a try – they are easier to make than you would think!
- 1 bunch of courgette/zucchini blossoms
- ⅓ cup ricotta cheese (5 tablespoons) - you may need a bit more, depending on the size of the flowers and how many are in your bunch
- 3 Tablespoons chopped mint
- 200g or 1⅓ cups self-rising flour
- 200 ml or ¾ cup sparkling water
- vegetable oil for frying
- 6 large black olives, pitted and chopped in half
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- To prepare the flowers:
- Combine the ricotta and mint in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
- If your flowers come with long stems trim them so that you have just enough of a stem to use as a handle to hold the flower (about 1 inch).
- Gently unfold the flower (the petal can be sticky so be careful) and reach into the flower to remove the stamen. The flower may tear a little bit, don't worry.
- Using a spoon small enough to fit in the flower stuff the flower with about a scant tablespoon of ricotta. Twist the flower closed and set aside while you stuff the others. If your petal has torn make sure the tear has been closed around the cheese with your twist and the cheese acting as a glue.
- Heat your oil to the point where you start to see bubbles forming but do not allow the oil to start smoking.
- Combine the flour and sparkling water and whisk to remove clumps and froth the batter.
- When your oil is ready (You can throw a bite-size piece of bread in the oil to see if it is hot enough. Bubbles should immediately form around the bread and it will look like it is frying. If this does not happen the oil is not ready) dip your flowers, one at a time, into the batter to coat all over. Fry about 3 flowers at a time until they are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Drain the flowers on a baking sheet lined with paper towel.
- For the Salsa:
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
- To Serve:
- Spoon the salsa onto a serving platter and top with the flowers.