"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Monday, January 30, 2012

Burrata Stuffed Fried Zucchini Flowers with Pesto Dip

You never ask someone what his or her favorite food is and receive the response "zucchinis." Maybe it's their similarity to their somewhat boring cousin, the cucumber, or it could be their slight lack of original flavor...Zucchinis, however, are pros at taking on the flavors of whatever spices and feelings their cooked with. If a zucchini was a person, it would be that chap at the party who is a little bit quiet, wearing a gray t-shirt - but has a super cool secret skill, like a great artist with a sketchbook that shows experience and experimentation. You can experiment with zucchinis, and from experience you know they can actually add a wonderful texture and taste to pizzas, pastas, breads, soups, antipastos.  I was introduced to the beautiful zucchini blossoms while working at Cefalicchio - a central appetizer was fried zucchini flowers. Then, for my friend, Maxine's birthday, I made these seasonal fried zucchini flowers. I was making dinner for my mom and sister and wanted to have them experience this wild and crazy half sister dish of the zucchinis. Because my mom grows her own basil, I make pesto over there with just about everything. Turns out pesto is a lovely dip for the fried zucchini flowers, but a little bit goes a long way.
 When handling the zucchini blossoms, you have to be very gentle. They are delicate, sensitive, and very shy....with time, it gets easier to handle them. 
 Fried Zucchini Flowers with Pesto Dip

Zucchini flowers
Burrata (Since it is very difficult impossible to find the real burrata out here - you can find a pretty good kind at Trader Joe's or the Cow Girl Creamery.)
Whole wheat flour
Tonic Water
Kosher salt
Vegetable Oil

1. Gently wash the zucchini blossoms and let them dry
2. Very carefully, spread the petals to remove their seeds and stem, making them hollow on the inside
3. Fill the inside of the zucchini blossom with burrata, just enough to plump it up but not too much so that you can still close the blossom and wrap the petals around one another to seal it shut.
4. In a bowl mix together whole wheat flour, a pinch of salt and just enough Tonic water to make the mixture a thick batter consistency.
5. Heat vegetable oil over high heat in a skillet. To test if oil is hot enough you can drop a pink nail of batter. The batter should sizzle up and rise to the top.
6. Dredge the stuffed blossoms in the batter and gently lay them into the hot oil.
7. When you see edges turn golden brown, flip over.
8. After about 1-2 minutes on the second side, remove and set on a paper towel.
9. Sprinkle with kosher salt and serve warm.
 Now, what to do with the actual zucchinis? Slice and saute with garlic, salt and pepper, and sliced mushrooms and add to a pizza!

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