Once upon a time there was an episode of my pretend boyfriend Jamie Oliver's "Jamie at Home" that featured zucchini blossoms. The show, as usual, had him foraging in his lush backyard garden picking his fresh zucchini blossoms and right when he was preparing to stuff them, a beautiful honey bee came buzzing out of the closed blossom. Jamie acted as if it were a surprise. Something that, after years of working in the film business, I knew was more staged than Madame Tussauds wax museum but this is Jamie we're talking about and as long as he flashes that smile and a little lisp action at the end of it, he can get away with any little stunt he wants. But beyond my schoolgirl crush on Mr. Oliver, I was intrigued by the blossoms.
So I searched and searched for pretty much 2 years for these elusive blossoms and nothing. I couldn't find them anywhere. And don't even get me started on my numerous attempts at trying to grow zucchinis. Not happening in my garden. But last week I hit the jackpot. There they were at my farmer's market. Finally, these beautiful blossoms staring me in the face. It was a no brainer what I was going to do with them. So it happened. I got to try Jamie's stuffed zucchini blossoms and they were as good as I had imagined. No honey bee action mind you, but delicious indeed.
Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver:
6 ounces goat cheese (fresh ricotta is good too)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
1 small red thai chile, halved, seeded and very finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
pinch of ground nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cold sparkling water
8 zucchini flowers, with zucchini still attached
oil for frying such as vegetable, grapeseed or peanut oil
1. Mix the goat cheese in a bowl with the nutmeg, parmesan, lemon zest, parsley, mint and chiles. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Put the flour into a mixing bowl with pinch of salt. Pour in the sparkling water and gently stir to combine thoroughly.
3. Gently open the zucchini flowers keeping them attached to the zucchini, and pull off the pointed bottom parts that are inside the blossoms because they taste bitter.
4. Using a pastry piping bag or teaspoon, carefully fill each flower with the cheese mixture. Gently twist the blossom tops closed and set aside.
5. Preheat oil that is about 2 inches deep in a heavy bottomed skillet to 375 degrees. Once the oil is hot, place the stuffed blossoms in the batter. Coat the blossoms completely with the batter and shake off the excess batter. Carefully place the blossoms into the hot oil, working in batches if needed, making sure you don't crowd the pan. Cook on one side about 4 minutes, flip and cook on the other side about 4 minutes or just until the blossoms are a crisp golden brown. Remove from the oil, drain on paper towel and serve immediately with a fresh squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt.