The more I read about all secret ingredients hiding in food and less I want to get closer to supermarkets. Becoming an urban gardener for me has been more a choice for keeping my good health than a result of having a large yard to turn into something beautiful. I could have added a swimming pool, designed a patio with flowers in pots, or I could have cemented it all to have a clean space for BBQ, outdoor cabana bar, umbrellas and lounge chairs. Instead I opted to work the land, make it fertile, get closer to Mother Earth, which in turn will gift me with a bounty of natural food and a lot of piece in my heart.
During the summer months I harvest zucchini flowers every day, they grow on top of the zucchini stems from which the zucchini will form, but to make zucchini grow healthier it is better to pick the flowers. Early morning is the best time to pick them, as they are wide open and in full beauty; they will stay open for about three days if kept in the refrigerator. Their size is huge, at time I have flowers as wide as 8-9 inches and 7-8 inches tall; they lend themselves well to get stuffed.
In Europe, zucchini flowers are a delicacy and sell at the open market for a high price. We use them in our food raw or we stuff them with anything we fancy and then we either bake or eat them stuffed and raw. All the ingredients forming the stuffing need a binder, such as rice, potatoes, or eggs; you can choose to stuff them with meat, fish, tuna, vegetables, or cheese, all finely chopped.
I stuffed the flowers in my photo with the Amaryllis in the background with white rice, tuna, olives, capers, onions, ginger and spinach. I stuffed the flowers in the photo with the green leaf plate with brown rice, ground meat (I buy a piece of beef, pork, or lamb and ground it myself, this way I don’t get the nasty pink slime added to the meat), chicory, cheese and garlic. Other types of stuffing to consider are cheese and eggs, or all vegetables with couscous, grains, or quinoa.
I find it is better to sauté the ingredients to allow them to become softer, malleable and easier to handle for the stuffing process, especially if you decide to use fresh meat or fresh fish.
Lightly butter a baking pan, align each stuffed flower tight (tops facing each other), lightly drizzle olive oil all over, sprinkle Parmigiano cheese, or any cheese for grating, add breadcrumbs and bake at 400° F. for about 45-50 minutes. The tops will be crispy, golden and the inside soft and delicious. If you like to freeze stuffed flowers to keep them for the winter like I do, wait they cool down, then box them up and put a label on the lid describing what’s in it. Three months from now, or when you decide to eat them, you will not remember what kind of stuffing is in the flowers.
It will take some time to stuff flowers, they are delicate, you can’t rush this process, therefore plan a good hour of your day to create this masterpiece. In my day there is always space for cooking and caring for myself. Find the recipe in full details in my book: Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicity, on Amazon: http://tiny.cc/pkoo0
Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms.