Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summertime - Zucchini Flower Recipe Competition!!

The huge vegetable garden on Cosimo's estate is my favorite indicator to define the season: huge artichokes: spring, ripe tomatoes: late summer, yellow zucchini flowers greeting every passerby: summer summer. Yes, looking out on that patch of land one can state without a doubt that summer has arrived.

And, oh so many yummy things can be cooked with those flowers ("fiori di zucca"). Deep fried as an appetizer, stuffed with ricotta and parmesan cheese and then baked in the oven, with pasta...

WHAT ARE YOUR ZUCCHINI FLOWER RECIPES?? Post them here as a comment and I promise I will try them all out with a trusted panel of Italian eaters to award a set of Cosimo's Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the one recipe that brings out best the authentic zucchini flower taste! Deadline July 10, 2009.

My two personal favorites: briefly fried in an olive oil lined pan with some parmesan cheese sprinkled over it, a hint of salt and black pepper. Nothing else.

Or a zucchini risotto with the flowers giving a colorful touch to the dish, carrying the warmth of the sun into your plate.

Easy risotto recipe:
2 cups of Carnaroli Rice from Il Covone (in The Scrumptious Pantry)
1 medium sized onion, diced
2 small zucchini
6 zucchini flowers
½ cup white wine - I personally recommend a good Chardonnay; do not try to save money using cheap wine, you can taste the difference. It is better to buy a nice bottle to also go with the meal!
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken) – depending on altitude, weather etc. you might need a little less or more. Taste your way to your perfect quantity!
1 stick butter (8 tbsp.)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Choose a low-rising and wide pot – you want to give the risotto lots of room to absorb the liquid evenly!

Sauté the diced onion and the grated zucchini in 4 tbsp. butter, add the rice and sauté until it becomes translucent. Add wine, stirring until the liquid is totally absorbed. Add finely sliced zucchini flowers. Add ½ cup of hot broth at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid, stirring every 3-4 minutes. After about 15 minutes (the rice should be almost done), turn off the heat, add the remaining butter and the parmesan cheese, stir well and let sit with lid of the pot closed for another 5 minutes. NOTE: you can always substitute wine with broth, if you prefer!

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