Sunday, January 13, 2013

Summer dinners: Stuffed zucchini blossom experiment

I could hardly believe my luck at the markets yesterday when I came across my favourite vege stall selling zucchini blossoms for $1 a bag!  I think I first read about stuffed zucchini blossoms in a travel novel about an English  lady who goes to live in a small Tuscan village for a few years.  This book was like a food porn novel!  Page after page of the most delicious sounding treats, bread baked in an outside fire oven, wine with every meal (even a shot of grappa in your morning coffee), the finest olive oils in the district, oh the list goes on!  And of course then there were the zucchini blossoms.  I thought that the only way I would get to try something like this is if I were to go to Tuscany (which is something I was happy to do of course!) because lets face it, who wants to waste a perfectly good zucchini by picking it when it's still flowering.  Anyway to cut a long story short I found some and wasted no time trying to figure out what to do with them!  Most of the recipes required fancy Italian cheeses that can't afford don't have.  So I put a post up on trusty old Facebook asking for stuffing ideas and ended up combining them all.
The blossoms
There's not much to preparing these.  Make sure they are fresh (and if you're not going to eat them right away wrap them in a damp tea towel and put them in the fridge), give them a gentle wash to get any bugs and dirt off, and then cut the inner stem off where all the pollen is.  This is actually a little tricky so I found that using a pair of scissors was the easiest.

The stuffing
I don't ever really use recipes so this is totally made up like usual.  It was spicy, tangy and delicious though!
- Cooked brown rice
- Half a red onion (I cooked it slightly before hand)
- Cows milk feta (crumbled)
- A large tomato
- A big handful of fresh basil leaves
- The juice of half a lemon
- Paprika powder
- Dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)
- Salt
- Pepper
And simple combine the whole lot together in a bowl.

The batter
- Half a cup of flour
- One egg
- Sparkling water
- Salt
I actually have no idea why you are supposed to use sparkling water, but all good batter recipes seem to ask for either sparkling water or beer.  I didn't want a thick, gluggy batter so I watered mine right down.  So again, simply combined the mixture (I used a stick blender).

And then?
And then comes the fiddly part!  You have to somehow coax the stuffing into the blossom without tearing the petals too much!  At first I used a spoon and tried it that way but to be honest it was just turning into a mess, so finally I just used my fingers.  Then I twirled the top of the petals together and semi convinced them to stay that way. 
Ten minutes and ten blossoms later I was ready for dipping and frying!  I heated some oil up in the frying pan (a reasonable amount of oil but not so they were swimming in it), carefully dragged each stuffed blossom through the batter and let the excess drip off before putting it into the hot oil. Of course I didn't want to burn my precious bundles so I kept a close eye on them and turned them so as to brown up all sides.
After that I placed them (gently!) on a kitchen paper towel so that any extra oil could soak in.  And that's it!  Easy right!  The best ones were definitely the extra flowers,
I just made a big tray of roast vege's to go with it but really you could have them with all sorts of things, or simply on their own as an appetiser.

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