One of the best things about Summer is being able to walk around in the yard barefoot. I love the feeling of cool grass underfoot as I pad my way to the back of the garden, checking on the latest growth spurt. Along the way I'll stop to smell the bee balm and admire the ferocious beauty of the purple coneflower. But the flowers I'm most wanting are those that belong to my yellow zucchini.
I don't even stop to put shoes on as I enter the dirt path. There's something almost rebellious about a grown woman going barefoot in her own garden, but if this is my rebellion I don't think any of us have anything to worry about - though I have been known to raise my stereo volume to unhealthy levels and dance around to the Foo Fighters like a crazy woman.
And then I see them....the yellow beauties, some bursting out into star shapes, others softly enclosed. I stop and admire them, for squash flowers really are a thing of beauty. Every now and again I think back to how all of this garden gorgeousness started with just a few seeds. And water, and sun, and careful attention. And now it's bursting with goodness. I pick the blossoms that don't have a zucchini at the other end, and there are plenty of them. Plenty of zucchini too, some small, some ready for picking. What should I make with those?
As I make my way back to the house, feeling the warm dirt, then the cool grass on my feet, I think how lucky am I to have this little urban oasis? The garden is work, lots of it, but there's no better place to get food than your own backyard.
Inside my little green kitchen, I gingerly open the zucchini flowers. I fill them with a mixture of fresh bocconcini, lemon zest and herbs, then dip them in a light tempura batter, and deep fry until they are golden and gorgeous. Sprinkled with salt and a drizzled with lemon, these are utterly delicious. Salty crispy cheesy - all of my favourite things - with a mild hint of squashness. If you have access to zucchini flowers, it would be so wrong if you didn't make these. Trust me. Best. Thing. Ever.
I eat the warm zucchini flowers on my patio, watching the sky darken in the West, waiting for the distant rumble of thunder. These are the best (Summer) days.
Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Bocconcini and Lemon
One of my dearest friends in the whole world, Miss StacyLee, sent me Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook "My Father's Daughter", for my birthday a few months ago. It has loads of good recipes, but this one could be the tops. Thanks Gwyneth! And Stacy, you rock too.
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup seltzer of sparkling water (I used Perrier)
6 ounces (170g) bocconcini, coarsely grated
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon
some chopped fresh herbs, like dill or parsley or basil
grind of fresh pepper and sea salt
20 zucchini flowers
canola oil for frying
1 lemon, halved, for serving.
Whisk together the flour and olive oil in a large bowl - it will be pebbly. Whisk the fizzy water into the mixture until the batter is smooth. Season with a large pinch of coarse salt. Cover with plastic and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together the cheese and herbs and lemon zest, salt and pepper. Carefully open each flower and stuff a heaping teaspoon of filling inside. Some will tear, but do your best. Gently twist the tops to keep everything inside. At this point you could let the batter and flowers sit for a couple of hours while you do other important summer stuff, like take a nap or read Rob Lowe's memoir (I like!)
When ready to eat, heat up an inch of canola oil in a large cast iron skillet, or other heavy pan over medium heat. When a small cube of bread sizzles, you know you are ready to fry. Carefully dip each flower into the batter and slip it into the hot oil. Fill the pan with as many flowers to create a single layer, being careful not to overcrowd. Brown for about one minute per side, until golden. Drain well on paper towels. Serve hot, with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon. Serves 4. Perfectamundo!!!
And now let's look at more zucchini flowers...