Yeah, it’s nearly November and yet here in Los Angeles you can still find these adorable baby zucchini with the flowers attached at a couple farmers markets. I apologize to all of you who are watching your available local produce shrink along with the temperatures. (At least you still have water). The only obvious way to cook them is to fill the flower with something good then roast them in the oven hoping the flowers stay attached. So that’s what I did several times during the summer and yet again last week. The beauty of these zucchini, is that you need to do so little work for the ooo, ahh result.
Look for flowers that are large and open rather than shriveled. That’s the whole “secret” here. It’s much easier to slip in some filling into flowers that are fresh and a bit open then when they’re sad and shriveled. Hmm. Perhaps I should have re-written that previous sentence. Anyway. The photos here show two different fillings I like to use. One is a simple mince of onion and zucchini, the other is ricotta.
Zucchini and Onion Filling:
Cook minced zucchini and minced onion separately in olive oil with a bit of garlic, salt and black or red pepper. Then mix the sautéed vegetables together and let them cool, then stir in a little grated parmesan to taste and a beaten egg. I don’t add breadcrumbs because, maybe a gluten-free person will be around and when the zucchini are roasted the egg is enough to bind the filling so it doesn’t seep out. I buy a couple of regular zucchini to make the mince for the filling. Don’t waste the babies by chopping them up.
Buy good Italian Style ricotta like Angelo & Franco or another drained ricotta. You could also use goat cheese, but it will be much more assertive in flavor. I simply spoon out into a bowl an amount I think it right to fill the number of flowers I have. I add a bit of grated parmesan and a beaten egg.
How to Fill the Flowers:
Line a baking tray with parchment.
Some folks (me included) like to remove the pistil from inside the flowers, but it’s not necessary. I reach in very carefully and pinch them out. Sometimes I’ll intentionally make a lengthwise tear in a small flower knowing that I can overlap the edges to get a good closure once filled.
So pinch out the pistil then using a small teaspoon gently add filling, being sure to only fill the flower to the point where the petals start to differentiate. Give the petals a gentle twist and lay the zucchini with flower attached onto the parchment lined baking tray.
Lightly salt the zucchini and pour just enough chicken or vegetable broth onto the pan to create some steam without drowning the vegetables. Lightly cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake approximately 30 – 35 minutes or until the baby zucchini are just tender when pierced with a sharp paring knife and the flower filling has set up. Remove the foil and let the pretty things dry up a bit.