Zucchini blossoms would have to be one of the true blessings of summer. The old saying, that you eat with your eyes first, is so apt for these beauties. The warm colour and soft, tissue-paper texture of the zucchini blossoms makes them so inviting to cook with. I love having them in my kitchen during summer and early autumn.
In Australia, zucchini blossoms fall into that group of specialty produce. However, they are becoming much easier to find. You can get them at most farmers markets during summer and early autumn. This is such a contrast to Greece, where the zucchini blossoms are commonplace fare - found even in the smallest of fruit and vegetable stands and with the sellers who drive around from village to village. This is because any display of zucchini always has the flowers attached, as a tell tale sign of the freshness of the produce. It is such a shame that we don't have the same practice here in Australia, although the specially grown zucchini flowers that you can by here are absolutley wonderful.
In Greece, one of the more common ways if cooking zucchini flowers is by filling them with herbs and rice, and then slow cooking them in the oven in a light tomato and olive oil sauce. If you are interested in trying zucchini blossoms this way, you can find the recipe here from my recent travels in Kefalonia.
Back at home in my Australian kitchen, I was inspired to use my beautiful zucchini blossoms in more of a mezedes style, rather than the traditional Greek baked version. The blossoms were filled with a mix of kefelograveria cheese and ricotta ( in Greece I would probably use a fresh mizyithra cheese instead), the classic Greek flavour - dill and a little anchovy to add a salty balance.
As we are coming towards the last month of summer here, jammy ripe figs are also coming into season, and these made a lovely accompaniment to my little selection of mezedes - along with some olive and rosemary bread and a little hot sopressa. If you want a more vegetarian option, just leave out the sopressa. The figs, bread and zucchini blossoms alone make a wonderful feast - along with, of course, a little ouzo!
Greek style stuffed zucchini flowers
8 zucchini blossoms
125g ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated kefelograveria cheese
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill
4 finely chopped anchovies
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup plain flour
1 cup chilled soda water
Juice of 1 lemon
Step1. Combine the two cheeses, dill, anchovies, garlic and breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and mix well.
Step 2. Carefully prise flowers open (removing stamen) and use a small teaspoon to fill each flower with the cheese mixture. Gently twist flower ends together around the cheese filling.
Step 3. Make the batter by whisking the flour, lemon juice and water together in a medium bowl. It should be the consistency of thin cream.
Step 4. In a large pot, preheat vegetable oil.
Step 5. Dip flowers and stem into the batter, drain briefly and gently very carefully drop flowers into hot oil.
Step 6. Shallow fry flowers 3-4 minutes, turning regularly, until batter is crisp and lightly golden brown in colour. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve with figs, hot sopressa and bread to make a small mezedes platter.