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April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
Fried zucchini flowers stuffed with parmigiano and thyme is a crispy-then-soft treat that's a thrill to eat
All types of squash have edible blossoms, but few rival the color and deliciousness of the zucchini's.
Until a few years ago, it was difficult to find these flowers in the States because they're too fragile for most supermarkets to handle. You can now find them at most farmers' markets throughout the summer (zucchini season). The flowers are extremely delicate and last only a day or so after they are picked. That is to say, buy them the second you see them!
Perhaps inspired by their luck with the squash themselves, Italians have long cooked with the fiori as well. The leaves can be chopped like an herb and added to a frittata or risotto. The most common Italian preparation, though, is to stuff the flower with soft cheese -- usually ricotta or fresh mozzarella -- and then batter and fry; a delicate platter of crispy-then-soft zucchini blossoms is a thrill to eat.
My heroine and culinary goddess, Nancy Silverton, devised a pizza lined with squash blossoms, baked, and topped with buratta (think mozzarella filled with cream) that quickly became Osteria Mozza's most talked about pie. It's definitely the most beautiful.
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In this recipe, I don't stuff the blossom with the typical soft cheese. Instead, I use a combination of grated Parmigiano and herbs. But not so much that it overpowers the subtlety of the flower.
Most often stuffed, battered and fried or baked, squash blossoms are similarly delicious when eaten raw. Add to a summer salad for a subtle herb flavor and, of course, a hint of orange.
FRIED ZUCCHINI FLOWERS WITH PARMIGIANO AND THYME
Recipe courtesy of "Molto Batali" (ecco, 2011)
Makes: 24 flowers; serves 8 as a side dish
- 24 fresh open zucchini flowers
- 3 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cups finely slivered fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pick through the zucchini flowers to remove the stamens and check for bugs.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the Parmigiano, thyme, basil and nutmeg. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed. Using a small teaspoon, stuff each blossom with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano mixture. Set them aside.
In a 14-inch nonstick saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Place 6 flowers into the pan, and cook until golden brown on both sides. Place them on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining flowers.
Arrange the fried zucchini flowers on a platter, and serve warm or at room temperature.
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© 2012, MARIO BATALI. Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.