So our garden has really taken off. Our zucchini has started to take over (as have our tomato plant – who knew you had supposed to prune tomato plants! Mental note for next year) and with the growing zucchini are an amazing amount of brilliantly yellow zucchini flowers. I have watched daily as the first started to appear, waiting with an eager anticipation and excitement for the day they would be ready to cook with. Zucchini flowers not only look beautiful, but they have a beautifully subtle flavour and are incredibly adaptable to cook with.
Having only ever cooked with them once before (the most amazing zucchini pasta, which I hope to share here soon once we have a few more flowers), I was determined to come up with a new recipe. I did a quick web search and came up with some amazing inspiration – zucchini flower tacos and pizzas. Sliced zucchini quickly fried and added to salads.
But the dish I kept coming back to was one I have eaten out a few times, particularly when in Europe – zucchini flowers stuffed with a ricotta cheese filling, and fried. You bite through the crispy exterior to get through the the delicate zucchini flower and the soft cheese filling. Taking inspiration from Lindsey over at Dolly and Oatmeal I decided to use a non-dairy filling and bake the flowers instead. The result was perfect – a slightly richer filling that the traditional ricotta version encased in a slightly browned and crispy shell. We ate the first batch fresh out of the oven – delicious! – and then made a second lot the following night which we served over a green salad. Either way these are best served fairly soon after making them – once they cool down the filling starts to harden and the flowers loose their crispiness quite quickly, although the taste was still perfect when they were a bit cooler.
Roasted zucchini flowers with cashew cheese
Adapted from Dolly and Oatmeal
8 – 10 zucchini flowers
Cashew cheese (adapted from the Whole Pantry)
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 – 2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used basil, oregano and thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste
To make the cashew cheese, place the cashews in a bowl and cover with water and a sprinkle of salt. Allow to soak for around 4-8 hours.
Drain the nuts, and add to a blender or food processor with the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 210C (405 F).
Carefully wash the flowers and place them on a tea towel to dry out. Cut down one side of the flower to remove the inner stem, and then use a teaspoon to fill eat flower with the cashew cheese filling. The amount will depend on the size of each flower – you want them full, but not that full that you then cant close them, which you will need to do by lightly twisting the end of each flower.
After they have been filled and closed, place the flowers on a lined tray lightly brushed with oil and bake for around 10 – 15 minutes, checking after around 8 to ensure they arent burning.
Best served hot out of the oven