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Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Thursday, July 24, 2003

CHEESE-STUFFED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS

Cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis walks a first-time or, shall we say, blossoming cook through every step in this recipe, which is much easier than it looks. She uses mineral or seltzer water to give the batter zip. The short version? Clean, stuff, fry, enjoy.

  • 8 good-sized zucchini flowers, pistils removed, with a tiny zucchini attached if possible
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup ( 1/2 ounce) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup carbonated mineral water or seltzer
  • Olive oil and vegetable oil, 1/2 and 1/2
  • Sea salt

Very gently wipe the zucchini blossoms clean if necessary. If a small zucchini is attached, slice it lengthwise in thirds like a fan, leaving it attached to the blossom. Whisk together the ricotta, egg, cheese, garlic, nutmeg and a pinch of salt in a medium-size bowl.

Spoon or pipe the filling into the zucchini flowers, handling them gently. Each flower should have 2 generous tablespoons of filling. Preheat the oven to very low. It will be a holding oven.

Place the flour in a large bowl and whisk in the water until smooth. Line a baking sheet with clean, plain, brown paper or paper towels.

Heat the oil in a small deep skillet to a temperature of 375 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, test the heat by dropping in a teaspoon of batter; it should float quickly to the surface and turn golden. Dip one of the flowers in the batter, making sure it is evenly and thoroughly coated. If it has a small zucchini attached, make sure it is coated as well.

Hold the flower over the bowl to let any excess batter drip off, then lower it gently into the oil and cook just until the batter is crisp and golden, up to four minutes, if that.

Fry no more than 2 flowers at a time. Use a slotted spoon to remove the flowers from the oil and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven with the door slightly ajar to keep the finished flowers warm while you prepare the rest.

Arrange 2 flowers on each of 4 small warmed plates. Dust lightly with sea salt and serve.


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