I first had deep-fried zucchini flowers in Rome about a decade ago, and I immediately fell in love with them. Since then I have played with baked versions that still give a crispy ‘fried’ feel.
Needed for this recipe:
• 1-2 Tablespoons Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Co. Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1/3 cup Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Co. Aged Dark Cherry Balsamic
• 8 male zucchini flowers, stamens removed
• 400 grams goat’s cheese chevre
• 6 dark cherries, diced
• 1 Tablespoon egg white
• ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
• 1 garlic clove, grated
• 2 Tablespoons fresh Basil, cut into strips
• 2 Tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated fine
• salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 375 convection bake. Layer a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Make a lengthwise slit along the side of each zucchini flower (and remove the stamen with a pair of scissors). Mix the cheeses, cherries, garlic, basil, salt and pepper until blended. Taste test as you go, so you can come up with a balance you like. I chose to highlight the cherries and have the garlic taste in the background, but you can play with this balance to your own liking.
Carefully open up the slit of each zucchini flower and stuff each zucchini flower with about 1 teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Carefully overlap the slit, then twist each flower until sealed.
Place your olive oil in an olive oil sprayer. Spray each flower on all sides with a light coating of olive oil.
Place the egg white in a bowl, and using a BBQ brush, brush each flower individually with egg white, then dip and roll around them in the bread crumbs until fully coated. Re-spray each zucchini flower on all sides with olive oil. This combination of the egg white and the olive oil sprayed bread crumbs will give the crispy browned effect that imitates deep fried.
Place each flower on the parchment paper, and bake in the oven 15-17 minutes until crispy brown. While your flowers are baking, you can make a Cherry Balsamic reduction on the stove. Simply add a ½ teaspoon of water to the balsamic, and heat on the stove at a low temperature. Your reduction is ready when it ‘candies’ the back of a spoon. Allow the reduction to cool (and it will thicken).
Serve zucchini flowers with a drizzle of the Cherry balsamic reduction.
This recipe would work well with flavoured olive oils, such as Garlic, Herbes de Provence or Basil and with other dark balsamics, such as Traditional, Fig or Chocolate. If you have Chocolate and Cherry on hand, they combine beautifully. This recipe can be served as an appetizer or even as a savoury dessert.