Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fried Zucchini Flowers with Goat Cheese

This is from my current favorite, Molto Italiano by Mario Batali. I've been watching a lot of Lydia Bastianich on the Create channel, and I recently learned that her son is Mario Batali's business partner, and an amazing fountain of knowledge when it comes to Italian wine. I think finding this out raised Mario's credit in my book - like he's no longer just a Food Network lackie. So, after pawing through about 10 of his cookbooks at B&N last month, I settled on this one and have not been disappointed with anything so far.

We planted WAY too much zucchini this year, and sadly some of it is going straight from the vine into the compost bin. None of our friends or family, and no one at either of our offices will take any more zucchini, so this recipe was particularly appealing to me!

I was a little nervous about what would happen if we didn't completely remove the stamens from the inside of the flower, but it was actually really easy to do. I mixed the goat cheese in this recipe with some homemade ricotta (I'll post soon) and it was awesome. The tomato "sauce" that goes with it easily deserves it's own post. We've used leftovers of it to dunk crusty bread and it's great. It only gets better after a few days in the fridge. This could easily be a light dinner with a side salad for me.

Fried Zucchini Flowers with Goat Cheese
12 Zucchini Flowers - stamens (and any bugs!) removed
1 cup fresh goat cheese
1 large egg
2 scallions thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1 pound yellow or red grape tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil for frying (I used a nonstick pan and hardly any oil and they still came out with a great crust)
3 tbl. red wine vinegar
8 fresh basil leaves

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, vinegar, basil and a little bit of the olive oil. Puree until smooth, strain through a cieve and set aside. In a small bowl combine goat cheese, egg, nutmeg and scallions. To stuff the zucchini flowers I found it easiest to put the filling in a ziplock bag and snip off a small piece of the corner instead of using a spoon to try and fill the delicate flowers. Divide the mixture evenly between the flowers. If frying, heat the oil until smoking and add four flowers at a time, keeping them warm in a low oven if you need to cook them in batches. If pan frying instead, add 6 flowers at a time to a nonstick pan over medium high heat and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, flipping three times to create a brown crust all over. Drain on paper towel. Drizzle the tomatoe sauce over the warm flowers and serve.

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