Saturday, 23 March 2013

I Bought You Flowers... and Ate Them!

Fiori di Zucca ripiene di Couscous, Erba Orsina e Feta
Zucchini Blossoms with Couscous, Feta Cheese and Ramps

Zucchini blossoms again! Well, what do you expect??? Springtime is still refusing to rear it's head- and these were the prettiest flowers I saw at the market hall today! Especially as they each had these lovely little miniature zucchini attached- they really did look great! So I thought if I have no one else to buy flowers for, I will just go ahead and buy them for myself! ;-)

One of my favorite fillings for zucchini blossoms, after having tried a few, still has to be couscous. It is so versatile and easy to flavor as well as being light and yet filling- a good combination methinks! 

Alas, there are no other blossoms yet over here this Springtime... but lo and behold, ramps are popping up everywhere and were in-season and in-abundance at the indoor market. Though much milder than garlic, they still give a wonderfully pungent garlic aroma to many a Spring-dish. I thought they would be perfect for this, in combination with the last piece of Feta cheese and a little mint and parsley. So that was it! I now had a plan... all I needed to do was to get started on it... like this!

I chopped 2-3 ramp leaves very finely and added them to the couscous- I only needed a couple of handfuls of couscous to have enough to stuff all of these little beauties. I added parsley and mint- just a little of each and just enough to bring a little freshness into the flavor, a little finely grated lemon zest to add a little more- and a squeeze of juice just to be sure!

I poured enough boiling water over the couscous to cover it, added salt, pepper and a pinch of grated nutmeg and let it sit for 5 minutes... after which time it was almost twice it's size and nice and fluffy. Whilst it was still warm, I added the crumbled feta cheese and stirred it in well, so that as it melted slightly, it blended together nicely and evenly with the couscous.

Next, I prepared the blossoms. What you need to do here is to gently fold back the petals so that you can open the blossom up and than take out the stamen, as they can taste bitter and just ruin your meal... and you know you don't want that! I then spooned in the cheesy, garlicky and minty filling into each blossom- it only took a teaspoonful of filling as the zucchini were so small. I carefully pinched the ends of the finished blossoms together and then laid them on a baking tray- almost ready to go! All I needed to do now was to pre-heat the oven and pop them in for 6-7 minutes from each side. And this is where some "learning by doing" comes in... I forgot to drizzle them with olive oil- and 6-7 minutes later was delighted to find that the little flowers not only looked good- but also tasted much better than if they had been soaked in oil- which happens really quickly if you are not careful!

So after 6-7 minutes and a little bit of attention, my blossoms came out perfect- with a light crunch and with lovely tender and steaming couscous inside! delicious- even if I do say so myself! Great as a little appetizer or an elegant side dish- I am sure you will wow your friends with this... to be quite honest- they wow me again and again each time I make them!

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