Wednesday, July 14, 2010

zucchini gratin and fried blossoms

our garden is bursting at the seam
the zucchini is dutifully turning out lots of squash
even more flowers
i used both of them for our dinner tonight
and now
am bursting at the seam
zucchini gratin
(printable recipe)
this recipe is my version of a wonderful eggplant gratin that ina garten makes
olive oil for frying
3 or 4 small-ish zucchini sliced 1/4" thick (you want to make 2 layers in your baking dish)
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/4 cup evaporated milk (you can use milk, half and half or cream)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for topping
handful of fresh basil, torn or cut into chiffonade
salt and pepper
1/2-3/4 cup marinara sauce (ina uses bottled and so why shouldn't you?)
heat the oven to 375.  heat the olive oil in a skillet...put enough to cover the pan and then another glug or two.  once the oil is hot, place the zucchini in batches in the oil and fry until they lightly brown. drain on paper towels.
in a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta 1/2 cup grated parmesan, egg, milk, basil a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.  
in the bottom of a small gratin or baking dish, place a bit of the marinara sauce. just put enough to discourage sticking.  layer the zucchini in two layers. sprinkle a bit of parmesan in between the layers of zucchini.  top the zucchini with more sauce.  you can be light or heavy handed here..whatever you like. i like sauce, so i have a heavy hand.  pour the ricotta cheese mixture on top and then sprinkle a bit more parmesan on top...just a light dusting.  bake for about 30 minutes until it is bubbling and beginning to brown.  let cool about 15 minutes before serving and eating.
but wait
there's more
this is the bonus round
fiori fritti
(printable recipe)
a summer staple in any self-respecting italian household
zucchini flowers--cleaned and destemmed
the possibilities are endless
you can use nothing or you can fill with
mozzarella cheese
ricotta cheese
manchego cheese
artichoke pate
or cheese and
sundried tomatoes
olive tapanade
..and many more

today i used a bit of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil
place in the middle of the flower and then fold the flower to cover completely
and you are ready to dip and fry
make the batter:
1/3 cup flour
1 egg
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1/4 cup sparkling water
2-3 ice cubes
more salt for sprinkling on the fried goodies when they come out of the oil
whisk together the flour, egg, salt, pepper and sparkling water.  add the ice cubes and place in the fridge while you heat the oil and prepare the flowers. the trick for a crispy batter is to have it very cold.

place about 6" of vegetable oil in a sturdy pot---careful to leave another 3-4" from the top of the oil to the top of the pan for safety.

dip the stuffed flowers in the batter and let the excess run off.  fry in the hot oil until begins to brown and is quite crispy.
*i also dipped and fried some sage leaves and a few small zucchini


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