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Friday, August 15, 2014

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

As if the versatility of the zucchini isn’t enough, the subtle orange, delicate flower of the zucchini plant has delicious possibilities of its own.

While growing up I don’t recall ever having the pleasure of zucchini flowers gracing our table. I suppose it was because my parents never included zucchini plants in their small vegetable garden. Thanks to the generosity of some very kind friends we are gifted with a few lovely bouquets each year during the summer months.

These flowers are hard to come by in most grocery stores perhaps because of their perishable nature and I would venture to say they might not be in such high demand.  I remember coming across some in a specialty market once, a rare occurrence and the price attached to them required a double take to make sure it wasn’t a mistake! Worth their weight in gold!

For lack of a more creative way to use these zucchini flowers they've always found their way into a fritter batter.  The time had finally come to try something new with the blossoms that came our way this past week.

I'd been curious to try this recipe for Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers for some time now and couldn't let the opportunity pass me by once again.  Having never made them before, I contemplated making another batch of fritters instead, not wanting to chance wasting such a precious ingredient.

No doubt zucchini flower fritters are delicious but this recipe for Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers is like dressing them up for a very special occasion.  Exquisite!

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
12 to15 zucchini blossoms (depends on size of flowers)
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or favourite cheese)
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup of all-purposed flour
1 cup of soda water
1 1/2 cups of vegetable or canola oil (for frying)
  1. Mix together the ricotta, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, chopped basil, garlic, egg and salt.
  2. Place the mixture into a piping bag. If you don't have one fill a plastic freezer bag instead and cut the corner off.
  3. Cut the stems from the flowers. If you need to clean the flowers, gently wipe them with a damp paper towel.
  4. Whisk together the soda water and flour. The mixture will seem quite frothy, it just needs to rest a little. Set aside.
  5. Gently open the petals. It may take a few tries as they can be entwined.
  6. Remove pistil from the center of the flower by snipping it off with scissors.
  7. Gently pipe about 2 tablespoons of the prepared filling into the flowers.
  8. Twist the top of the petals together to close the flowers, set aside.
  9. Heat the oil in a medium size pan to medium high heat.
  10. Individually dip each flower into the batter. Hold it over the bowl to let the excess batter drip off.   
  11. Gently lower it into the hot oil. Cook the flowers until they are lightly golden and crisp, about 2-3 minutes.
  12. Remove flowers from oil and drain on paper towels, allow to rest for about 5 minutes to firm up ricotta before serving. 

Notes, Tips and Suggestions
  • A little mozzarella in the center would be a great addition to these.
  • If no basil is available replace with finely chopped flat leaf Italian parsley.
  • Fried a few with no filling, just battered... light, crisp and delicious! 
  • Make sure the batter is quite fluid, shouldn't be too thick.  Add a little more club soda if necessary. 
  • Don't overfill the flowers with ricotta, a little goes a long way.
  • Fry only until lightly golden, do not overcook.
  • These are best eaten within a short time of frying.

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