15 September 2009

Spicy cheese filled Zucchini flowers

One of Italians favorite ingredients that they love to use here that often surprises our guests, are zucchini flowers. They can be quite bountiful at times when there are many on the vine that will never tun into a zucchini such as these in the photo above and then there are ll of the ones attached to the end of the zucchini when you either pick them from you own  prolific plants or purchase them fresh from your market vendor. Either way, they are delicately flavored, lovely to behold and delicious stuffed and deep fat fried, but then, is just abut everything. That is the typical way they are done and served in most of Italy, but they do find their way into soups, risottos, ravioli and pasta dishes as well.
I did a slightly lighter version of them the other night that had my friends making me believe that they had died and gone to heaven. They savored every morsel. They are so easy to prepare this way, that you might just want to wander out to your garden and see if you have a few to fill with your favorite filling and bake in the oven till warmed though and you have an easy delectable starter that will have you running back out to the garden to find if your zucchini plant has given up a few more flowers while you were busy making and baking the first ones. If not just be patient and I'm sure you'll have a few more shortly. You'll just have to be patient and think about what else you can fill them with. I used a mixture of small bits and tail ends of a variety of cheeses along with some spicy Calabrian salami. You could use some flavorful beans for grains as well. Just make sure to either wrap the flowers in something that will keep them from drying out while they are baking, or lightly brush a bit of oil in them before popping them into the oven.
Fiori di zucchini ripieno 
4 servings

8 large zucchini flowers or more if they are smaller
3-4 slices of Proscuitto crudo, sliced lengthwise to make 2-3 generous strips per slice

200-250 g assorted cheeses, I used fresh
Seirass, (which is a stronger flavored and firmer ricotta type cheese
Parmesan (Grana Oadan actually)and
Cevrin, which is a strong goat cheese.
The idea is to have a flavorful filling, but not necessarily a stringy type cheese filling, but anything will work really.
50- 100g spicy salami diced
1 egg optional if your mixture holds together well on it's own, like mine did
few grates of fresh nutmeg
2 Tb chives

Mix everything together in a bowl and set aside.
Wash your flowers lightly in a bowl of water to remove dust etc
Working gently remove the large pistil inside. If your flowers are small you might open one sideto ease the filling process.
Fill the flowers generously keeping the slit together as best you can and leave enough room at them end that you can fold the points of the flower over the ends to keep the filling in.
Wrap the ham around the flower in a spiral tucking in your ends if you canso it all holds togther.
Bake in a moderate to hot oven till warmed through and juicy.
Serve immediately.
They are quite rich and usually 2 will make a substantial starter.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I tried to no avail to get my local farmers to bring in some zucchini flowers. I will just have to keep on waiting and reminiscing.

Peter @ italyMONDO! said...

My favorite... I have loved these ever since I was a kid.

I can honestly say I've never seen them done like that, though. Looks like next season I know what to try!

Bella Baita Marla said...

What a shame Val, I guess they're too delicate for them to want to mess with them.
Yes Peter a touch of artistic license up here in the north when you just can't have one more fried food no matter how tasty they are.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love how you wrapped them with the ham Marla! Love these!

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