Saturday, 8 March 2014

Hotter Than Hot-House Flowers!

Fiori di Zucca Ripiene al Forno
Baked Zucchini Blossoms stuffed with Bulgur, Herbs, Anchovy Paste & Salted Ricotta

Beautiful, bright yellow, zucchini blossoms- pretty as a picture and tasty as can be... how could I resist them today? Answer- I couldn't! They were one of the few unusual things that were on offer at almost every stall... for whatever reason- and yep, sure enough, I had to have them!

I used to think of them as some fancy-schmancy silliness- which often times they can be... but then I tasted some of the traditionally made ones in my last trip to Rome, with a filling of Mozzarella cheese and anchovy, battered and deep-fried to perfection and finally realized what all the fuss was about... because they were totally delicious!

But obviously, I was not about to cook something that is already documented a gazillion times in numerous cookbooks, magazines and websites and on offer at any number of Roman restaurants- no, no, no! I still wanted to make something a little more "of my own" and a whole lot healthier than that! So I made these...

And the ingredients for them was the flowers of course, un-refined brown bulgur wheat, a Spring onion, a little mint and parsley, some grated ricotta cheese, a few cherry tomatoes and a squeeze of anchovy paste... does that sound good to you? It should do! It was!

I began by turning on the oven to pre-heat and by boiling some water for the bulgur... whilst those 2 important things were going on- I took care of the other important things... like chopping and slicing the other ingredients.

The Spring onion I finely sliced, the cherry tomatoes I finely diced and the mint and parsley I simply cut into a fine "chiffonade" or thin strips. So those were the ingredients taken care of. Next- the bulgur! I simply poured enough boiling water over the bulgur to cover it by about an inch, stirred it well, let it soak of the water completely and then added the same amount again- and let it sit and fluff-up all by itself.

Once the bulgur had cooled down I added the finely chopped and sliced ingredients, along with some finely grated salted ricotta and a squeeze of anchovy paste. The quantity to fill 9 zucchini blossoms were 2 cups of bulgur and 4 cups of water, and for seasoning 2 tablespoons of grated salted ricotta and a teaspoon of anchovy paste.

I stirred up all of these ingredients gently but thoroughly and added a little olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. A good pinch of chili flakes (or simple pepper if you prefer them milder) and a pinch of sugar- just to balance the sour lemon and the salty ricotta and anchovy paste. Sounds like a good mix to me!

The next step was to carefully remove the stamens from the blossoms- this is very easy to do- just spread the petals of each flower open and pinch them off. Please remember to do this- as they taste bitter and nasty!

Next, start to fill the blossoms by holding them open and begin to spoon in the filling with a teaspoon- about 4 teaspoons will do for each blossom. Press and squeeze the blossoms shut and then add a light drizzle of olive oil and gently rub them all the way round to give them a nice shiny finish and enough fat to make them become nice and crisp.

Once all of the blossoms were stuffed completely, I spread them out on a baking tray and popped them into the oven for around 10 minutes for each side from above and below. Basically they just need to come up to temperature and lightly crisp-up on the outside- yum-yum-yum!

This is my favorite preparation for zucchini blossoms- because it works every time ... and because it is a little more fun than the fried and battered versions... at least for me they are!

I love the combination of the salty anchovy and ricotta with the mint and parsley and the way that it combines with the nutty bulgur and sweet tomatoes... it just just wonderfully balanced! What can I say? Other than "yum!"- lol!

These tasted great hot or cold and would make great appetizers or party food as they are such small, pretty and satisfying little devils- although be careful! They are so tasty you may well over-indulge and then not have space for anything much else!

Then again- they are probably worth it!


No comments:

Post a Comment