Saturday, 2 May 2015

Blooming Wonderful!

Fiori di Zucca al Forno con Couscous al Ras el Hanout, con Crespelle, Pinoli & Menta
Baked Zucchini Blossoms with Ras el Hanout-Spiced Couscous, Barberries, Pine-Nuts & Mint

When I saw these lovely zucchini blossoms at the market hall today, as is usually the case... I could not resist them!
So... I didn't! I popped them into my basket and along with my other treasures... including a fresh batch of barberries packed away, I headed home... Happy, but without a clue as to what I was going to do with them!

But, sure enough, when it came around to supper time, my instincts (and my hunger!!!), took control- and before I knew it myself, this lovely dish began taking shape all by itself!


Delicious as they are, one thing I would never make myself is deep-fried zucchini blossoms... I do much prefer a lighter method of cooking as you know- and my method of choice is always oven-baked...

So knowing how I was going to prepare them and with a plan as to what to fill them with- an aromatic combination of couscous, herbs and spices... I turned on my oven to have it hot and ready and set to work preparing my wonderful and exotic treat!


To prepare 6 blossoms, I needed just 1 1/2 cups of couscous, 1 tablespoon of Ras el Hanout, 2 tablespoons of barberries, 2 tablespoons of pine nuts, plenty of fresh mint and parsley, salt, pepper, a good olive oil and a little honey.


Exotic, light, yet satisfying and totally delicious- these little flowers would make a perfect bouquet to decorate any dinner table!


One thing that you need to know about barberries is, that as lovely and tangy and bittersweet and delicious as they may be... They DO require rinsing at the very least 4-5 times! There is a lot more dust on those little devils than you could possibly imagine! But it is worth the "effort"- and anyway, you can prepare the other things in the meantime!


My last word on the matter is... It is a good idea, even after rinsing 4-5 times, to give them a good rinse under a strong running tap... But once you have done that, you will be ready to go!


Chop up your mint and parsley very finely and add it to the couscous, along with the barberries, Ras el Hanout and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Cover well with boiling water and allow to steep for 10 minutes, until doubled in size, fluffy and light.


In the meantime, you can toast the pine nuts in a dry pan and prepare the blossoms by rinsing them and carefully snapping out the stamens. Once that is done, you can stir the couscous together and spoon it carefully into each blossom... Around 3 teaspoons of filling for each one.

If your blossoms are as fresh as mine were, you may find them a little too stiff to fold together tightly... In which case- don't! Just leave them be, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and drizzle them with olive oil. pop them into the oven at 200 and after they have baked for 5-6 minutes and the leaves have begun to soften, press them down with a wooden spoon... They will be fine! Then bake for a further 5-6 minutes before adding a light drizzle of honey. Give them a final 2-3 minutes to glaze slightly... And then serve with a big grin! Aren't they just amazing?


Excuse me please if I have to repeat myself... But they ARE just amazing! Lovely and aromatic served hot or cold... But you don't think that I lost any time in enjoying them now, do you?


I added a little extra mint as a garnish... But one that should definitely be eaten along with them! Especially the little zucchini themselves... With the honey and spice... Just perfect!


I love these things so much!


Beautiful indeed... But not too beautiful to be gobbled up as quickly as can be! hehe!

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