I have always wanted to try my hand at zucchini blossoms and finally had my shot this Sunday. A certain stand at the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market in DC was brimming with the delicate flowers.
But what do with them? I had never even tasted a zucchini blossom, let alone knew how they were prepared.
I stood in my apartment and scanned the room, hoping to find some inspiration. But all I saw was an autographed photo of Mark Twain, an autographed photo of three Dallas Cowboys phenoms (Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, and Emmit Smith) and a photo of Jack and his sister with Bill Clinton - no autograph.
Now, I could go there and make a joke about rolling the zucchini blossoms into cigars, but that would be so 1996. And I don't think any of us want to go back there.
But lo! What's this? The July Issue of La Cucina Italiana sitting on my printer with none other than zucchini blossoms on the cover? What are the odds? I squeal in excitement as I flip through the magazine to find not one, not two, but, like, 5 or 6 (I didn't count) recipes all featuring zucchini blossoms!
Cue angels singing.
I learned that zucchini blossoms are often served stuffed, and sometimes fried. The options were endless: zucchini and mushroom omeletes with zucchini blossoms, asparagus soup with zucchini blossoms, shrimp stuffed fried zucchini blossoms... I could go on. I went with Zucchini Blossoms with Vegetables, because, with some tweaks, I had everything I needed to make the recipe.
These were the perfect summer appetizer. As you bite into the blossom, your mouth is filled with a combination of light and creamy cheeses, sweet, crunchy leeks, and the pop of succulent peas. Don't miss out on the magic of the zucchini.
Zucchini Blossoms with Vegetables adapted from La Cucina Italiana
1 leek, white and pale green parts only
Coarse sea salt
3 medium tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shelled fresh peas (1 to 1 1/2 pounds in pods) or frozen peas
1 large carrot, finely chopped
7 ounces ricotta salata cheese, softened at room temperature, crumbled
4 ounces mascarpone cheese (1/2 cup), at room temperature
12 large zucchini blossoms, stems and pistils removed
Good quality balsamic vinegar
Special Equipment: a 10-inch disposable pastry bag or sealable plastic bag
Cut leek in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces and wash.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop tomatoes into water and boil 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove tomatoes. Peel, seed, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a bowl.
Cook fava beans in the same pot of boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander. Run under cold water for 1 minute to stop cooking, then pat dry with paper towels and add to bowl with tomatoes. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Cook leeks, peas and carrot in the same pot of boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water for 1 minute to stop cooking. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add robiola, mascarpone and generous pinch salt and pepper to leek mixture; stir together to combine. Transfer cheese mixture to pastry bag. Snip a 1/3-inch opening and pipe filling into blossoms. Using your fingers, gently press petals around filling. Chill stuffed flowers until filling is just set, about 15 minutes.
Divide tomato mixture among 4 serving plates. Arrange blossoms on top. Drizzle with oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.