Baked zucchini blossoms
Makes 8 appetizer servings (or 4 side-dish servings)
Delicate zucchini blossoms (harvest from your garden or buy at specialty greengrocers) filled with a mild cheese mixture make a lovely first course or appetizer. The accompanying light-tasting tomato sauce calls for fresh, ripe plum tomatoes, but drained canned ones may be substituted.
For the sauce
3 tbsp. (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 large plum tomatoes (about 2 lb./900 g), peeled, seeded, chopped
1 tbsp. (15 mL) tomato paste
1 tsp. (5 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp. (5 mL) salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup (125 mL) dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh basil, roughly chopped
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic, continuing to sauté for another 4 minutes or until mixture is softened but not browned.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar, stirring well. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until mixture is thickened.
Add red wine and basil; continue cooking gently for 10 to 15 minutes.
Press mixture through a sieve set over a bowl (or use a food mill); scrape underside of sieve with a spatula to get all the sauce.
Return sauce to skillet, taste for additional seasoning then set aside.
For the zucchini blossoms
4 tsp. (20 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. (230 g) creamy (i.e., not aged or crumbly) goat cheese
2 tbsp. (30 mL) fresh basil, chopped
8 unsprayed zucchini blossoms, pistils and stamens removed (check inside blossoms for grit or insects)
Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Brush the surface of a baking dish with approximately ½ tsp. (2 mL) of oil. In a small bowl, blend cheese with basil.
Using a small spoon, fill each blossom with about 1 tbsp. (15 mL) of cheese mixture. Don’t overfill, or mixture will seep out as zucchini bakes.
Drizzle remaining oil over blossoms and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until light brown.
To serve, pour some warmed sauce on a plate. Place zucchini blossoms in the centre and serve immediately.
Ready to grow your own edible flowers? Check out Pretty enough to eat for tips and techniques!