Since I first saw them in Italian cookbooks, on blogs, TV cooking specials and in the raw in Italian markets I have wanted to make stuffed Zucchini blossoms. By I have never been able to get them here in Frankfurt at the markets and have feared bringing them back from my travels in my suitcase as they are so fragile. The beautiful colors of the female blooms remind me of the pale yellow wings of fairies while the large more open male flowers call to mind the spikey crowns and fiery breath of dragons.
This past weekend, unexpectedly as I visited the market, there they were in pretty packets of 10 blossom glowing up to me from the top of the tomato pile. Four large male “dragons” and six small “fairy” blossoms with mini zucchini attached. Golden yellow with intense green stems and lively green fruit, their trumpets lightly open to show their stamens and pistils. Sensuous, exotic, and enticing in a foodie kind of way.
On the spur of the moment I quickly passed the packet to the market seller along with 2 halved, gorgeously fresh boletus mushrooms, a firm yellow Turkish zucchini and the proper fresh herbs – thyme, rosemary, marjory, oregano and fresh basil.
Contented with these basic ingredients and excited about my catch, I continued on to the pickled stand to pick up the garlicky-herbed dried tomatoes in their succulent oil and the well formed and fragrant caper apples in their vinegary brine. And lastly a fresh ball of buffalo mozzarella went into my basket and then: away, away on my mighty stead (actually my little Hyundai) to my beloved kitchen so I can work my magic.
With the help of my sous chef (alias foodie husband) we first made wonderful pici pasta dough (find Jul’s Kitchen’s simple and fool-proof recipe here ) to later slice tender delicious tagliatella to bed our dainty fairy and feisty dragon blossoms enveloped in a vegetable cream sauce.
After the dough had rested, I washed and chopped everything to a fine size so that the filling wouldn’t pierce the delicate blossoms and stir-fried the ingredients tenderly in unctuous olive oil so as to blend the flavors to a fragrant al-dente perfection.
Next, we rolled the tagliatella dough, cut the pasta strips by hand and set them out to dry.
Then we carefully stuffed the blossoms finishing-up with bits of tender mozzarella and gently folding the petals over the mixture to enclose the stuffing. They were lovingly placed on the steamer rack and steamed to sweet perfection at 100° C for 14 minutes.
The leftover stuffing became the base for the cream sauce, plumped-up with succulent chopped local tomatoes and pepped-up with a subtle amount of racy arrabiata spice mix.
While the blossoms were steaming, the tagliatella were individually tossed into boiling salted water to rise lightly and delicately to the surface in just a few short minutes. Drained, returned to the pot and whirled with a dash of olive oil, the sauce was added and stirred, the top replaced on the pot to let the pasta soak up the sauce.
The steamer’s timer tweeted, I opened door and released the succulent smell of the blend of flowers, steamed vegetables complemented by the earthy smell of the mushrooms. The stuffed blossoms were intact and perfectly tender.
Recipe follows! read more …