Monday, July 16, 2012

ricotta stuffed zucchini blossoms + tomato salad.

I wait all year for the moment when I realize I am eating summer for dinner.  This usually happens in the middle of July, when the weather is oh so steamy and tomatoes are suddenly plentiful at the farmers market.  Dinner becomes a laid back alfresco affair complete with vodka cocktails infused with citrus, berry-filled desserts, and long conversations under tea lights that last until the mosquitoes become unbearable. 

I had my first perfect summer dinner this weekend.  I knew it was going to be perfect when I was at the farmers market on Thursday and came across the most adorable couple selling zucchini blossoms.  Zucchini blossoms are a very rare farmer’s market find.  Their season is super short (so sad) and they are very fragile which is why they are difficult to find. But, they are utterly delicious especially when stuffed with a ricotta mixture and gently fried.  I served them with the simplest of tomato salads and crusty Italian bread.  Summer never tasted so good.

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

For the filling

12 zucchini blossoms (stamens removed gently!)
½ cup ricotta (not supermarket ricotta, the good local stuff!
1 tablespoon minced basil
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

For the batter
Recipe adapted from Milk and Mode

Vegetable oil for frying
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 oz lagerstyle beer or club soda (I used club soda)
Sea salt for finishing

In a small bowl combine the ricotta, basil, red pepper flakes, parmesan, and salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Carefully open the blossoms and gently stuff about 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of the ricotta mixture, place the blossoms to the side. 

In a large pot, heat about 2” oil over medium heat, until when you put a drizzle of water into the pot it begins to crackle. Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl, then whisk in beer until almost smooth (some lumps are ok, you don’t want to overwhisk as that will deflate the batter).  One by one, dredge the blossoms in batter, shaking off the excess; gently lay them in the oil, without crowding the pan.  Cook, flipping once with a slotted spoon, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes total.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.  Sprinkle with sea salt while hot.

Tomato Salad with Balsamic and Goat Cheese
Serves 2

2 large tomatoes (I used and heirloom and a yellow tomato), sliced in ½ inch thick slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons goat cheese
1 tablespoon minced basil
Sea Salt and Black pepper

Arrange tomatoes on a platter in an overlapping pattern.  Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic.  Scatter the basil and goat cheese over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with sea salt and crushed black pepper.  Serve with crusty bread. 

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