While I’ve learned that most men buy flowers in efforts to apologize, I generally find myself buying them in attempts to distract her from my rather odd and idiosyncratic behavior. Over the last week I have developed an interesting habit; I walk in the door, grab my electric toothbrush, and crawl out the window of my fire escape. A behavioral pattern that most certainly drew an outlandish stare the first time it was witnessed. The issue isn’t that I have some inane desire to brush my teeth in the fresh air, but that my tomatoes, which I treat like children, are spouting flowers left and right with no fruit. I’m not certain if it’s related to colony collapse disorder, the fact that my tomatoes lie on a second story fire escape, or the lack of bee balm plantings, but I can’t seem to get bees to naturally pollinate my plants. So there I am, toothbrush in hand mimicking the natural vibration of a honeybee, praying that this will effectively turn some worthless tomato flowers into beautiful bulbous heirloom tomatoes. On the other hand, when it comes to vegetables like zucchini the end product is not nearly as desirable as the flower. With its delicate flavor and unique shape, it just begs to be stuffed, and while you can grow your own, they are readily available at most farmers’ markets, for a relatively reasonable price.
Typical recipes call for a large amount of goat cheese and herbs stuffed into these little beauties, but having made them following this method some time ago, I found the filling to be too dense, and opted to create a variation of my own, using a small assortment of vegetables and a non fat ricotta…they are already being deep fried no need to add to the guilt. Seriously try to make these, they’re fantastic.
12-24 Zucchini flowers (about six per person as an app)
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 large portabella mushroom
1 c baby spinach
1 medium red onion
2-3 minced garlic cloves
Tsp red pepper flakes
Dash of salt and pepper
This creates more filling than you’ll need, however, the excess is great for stuffed shells or manicotti. Clean and roughly chop the mushroom, spinach and onion, adding them to a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil and the minced garlic, sauté until they are lightly browned and there is little to no water in the pan. Allow to briefly cool and remove to a cutting board where they can be finely chopped. Add them to a bowl and mix with the ricotta, about 1 tsp of filling can be added to the bottom of each flower. Make sure to check the inside of the flowers for bugs before stuffing, it’s rare, but they have an undesirable crunch.
1-2 medium eggs
1c unbleached white flour
Tbsp dried Basil
One the flowers have been stuffed, whisk an egg in one bowl and combine the flour salt and basil in another. At this point you can begin heating a few inches of oil in a medium pan; oil tends to heat up very quickly and is difficult to cool, so I suggest you use a frying thermometer and heat the oil slowly, aiming for a temperature between 260 and 280 degrees. Dipping the flowers first in the egg wash, followed by the flour, they will then be ready to fry, and can be done roughly a half dozen at a time. They should only take a few minutes and are rather delicate so it’s best that you watch them to assure that they don’t over brown. They can be cooled/slightly dried on a rack while you fry the remaining flowers and should be served with a tomato based dipping sauce; marinara or vodka sauce will do fine.
There are now two tomatoes growing on my plants, victory is mine.