Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Baked Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Zucchini plants - all squash, really - produce separate male and female blossoms. Both are edible, but the males in particular are useful for cooking since there is no sacrifice of fruit made in picking them, as long as you don't pick them all. You could use female flowers for this, with very small immature zucchini attached, but you do lose the opportunity for them to fully form. Which may be not such a bad thing; I don't know. All I can say is we're not yet ready to do that. (Production is down! We only picked 6 zucchini today. C'mon guys; you're supposed to be churning them out!) At any rate, there seem to be plenty of male blossoms, so I'll be looking for things to do with them.

They do produce more male flowers when stressed by crowding or heat, and our plants are both crowded and hot, so that may explain why we have such a good selection of male flowers. I picked them with a bit of stem attached for presentation, but I don't think the stems are particularly tasty. We left them alone.

These would make an excellent appetizer or light first course. They can be prepared somewhat in advance, but I wouldn't do it too soon for fear of the blossoms getting soggy. On the other hand I think it is best to pick them first thing in the morning in order to get the blossoms nicely open, so you will likely need to keep them for a few hours at least. Wrap them up in damp paper towel and keep them cool.

The blossoms ready to stuff, above.

2 to 4 servings
45 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Make the Filling:
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (about 1 slice bread)
1 green onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
a good grind of black pepper
100 grams chevre goat cheese

The bread should be dry, but not totally stale. Crumble it into coarse crumbs. Wash, trim and chop the onion fairly finely.

Heat the butter in a small skillet and sauté the crumbs and green onion until the crumbs are nicely browned and the onion is soft. Sprinkle over the herbs, and once they are well mixed in remove the crumb mixture to a small mixing bowl. Let cool.

Add the crumbled chevre, and mix well. The mixture should form a ball, but try not to mash the crumbs too much. They should still be fairly light and chunky.

To Finish the Blossoms:
6 or 8 medium male zucchini blossoms
3 or 4 tablespoons sunflower seed or olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Using a grapefruit spoon or other sharp spoon remove the stamens from the flowers. Conveniently, these are not separate, but fused into one central cone. Discard the stamens. Be sure the flowers are free of any bugs; if not rinse them gently under cold running water until the insects are dislodged. Drain well. You can wrap the blossoms in a moist paper towel and keep them in a loose plastic bag for several hours before proceeding, if you like. Keep them cool, but not too cold.

Divide the filling into equal portions, one per blossom. Roll each portion into a cylinder to fit into the core of each blossom, and slide it in, closing the blossom gently around it. Have your baking pan ready, brushed with oil, and lay the blossoms in it as you work. Once they are all in, brush their tops with more oil.

Bake the stuffed blossoms for 15 minutes, until crisped and browned in spots. Serve hot.

Last year at this time I made Quick Pickled Radishes.


luckiest1 said...

Gorgeous! I baked almost the same thing last night, except I made my stuffing with cooked rice, shallot, garlic, and herbs. I much prefer them baked than deep fried.

Ferdzy said...

Yes, a person can only take so much grease. Or so they say. No seriously, with the cheese, who needs to fry too?

It makes me happy to think of people all over Ontario picking their zucchini blossoms and stuffing away!

Joanne said...

Those blossoms are seriously vibrant! I've been hoping to find some zucchini blossoms at the farmer's market....and now I have the perfect stuffing to stuff 'em with!