Saturday, 23 August 2014

Roman Flower Power!

Fiore di Zucca al Forno con Mozzarella, Acciughe & Pangrattato
Oven-Baked Zucchini Blossoms with Mozzarella, Anchovies & Bread Crumbs


Zucchini blossoms- beautiful, but puzzling at the same time for most people... "what are you supposed to DO with them?" Haha- that is what people usually ask!

Well, I have already posted various recipes for these beauties before- and of course, they were all baked in the oven, rather than deep-fried, which is the usual way that they are prepared. And it is totally delicious. But if you know me at all- you will also know that deep-fat frying is something I am not going to do- and you don't need to either!


Anchovy and mozzarella is the classic filling- and it is actually pretty hard to beat in combination with these delicate flowers. It's the saltiness of the anchovies and the mildness of the mozzarella that balance themselves out, within this most beautiful of natural wrappings... and yes, the batter on the outside does make the whole thing complete in the Roman version. So I had to think up a method of my own to add that extra dimension. And so I did.


To prepare 10 zucchini blossoms, I needed just 1 ball of mozzarella, 1 egg, 4-5 anchovies and some bread crumbs... those few things, a little pepper and some good olive oil and these great little antipasti are just a few steps away!


Crispy, toasty, cheesy, savory and delicious- that's what these things are! You will notice that I did not say that they taste fishy... because they do not! That is the most amazing thing about them for me- the anchovies serve simply to season the whole affair and only go to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients without overpowering them, which I feared they might do... but no! Trust me- this is a wonderful thing!


So, first thing first- you need to remove the stamen from the middle of the blossom- it has that yellow, sticky, powdery pollen all over it that you definitely will NOT enjoy eating!


Cut the mozzarella into slices and the anchovies into little pieces, to make them easier to portion. Yes, you will have stinky fingers... but it's for a good cause... Supper!


Don't fret over getting your fingers inside the blossoms without damaging them... carefully tear them open on one side and open them up- it makes no big difference in the grand scheme of things!

Add a slice of mozzarella and 3-4 pieces of anchovy to each blossom, add plenty of freshly ground pepper and squeeze them shut- no need to worry about doing that either!


Next, crack the egg, beat the white until it is nice and fluffy and peaky, then add the yolk and more freshly ground pepper. Stir together well and there you go... more volume, less egg- lighter coating! perfect!


Dip the zucchini blossoms into the fluffy egg and get them nicely coated. Yes, you will need to use your hands to do this too- but yes, again- it's definitely going to be worth it!


Sprinkle with bread crumbs... not too little- but not too much! Just like this! Haha!


Once you have added the bread crumbs, add a few drops of olive oil and lay them onto a baking tray, upside-down, so that you can add bread crumbs to the other side and a few more drops of oil, before popping them into a hot oven, 200°C, for 5 minutes or so, before carefully turning them over.


Once they have been flipped one time, they can go back in for a further 10-15 minutes, until the cheese melts, combining with the anchovy and until the egg and crumb coating becomes crispy and golden.


These lovely, crispy blossoms taste wonderful piping hot, but as opposed to the deep-fried ones, which of course will taste greasy and not so wonderful once they have cooled down, these may lose a little of their crispness, but still taste wholesome and delicious.


Maybe not the original, maybe not quite the same kind of batter... but a nice alternative and still delicious in their own right- this is the version that I will serve you up as an antipasto when you come to my place for an Italian dinner!

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