Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with Golden Tomato Vinaigrette

Zucchini Flowers
Isn’t that a lovely flower arrangement? Well, ehem, yes it is but I’m not planning on enjoying the view of the tissue paper softness of those brilliant buds for long…because I’m going to eat them!
I would like to introduce you to someone special.  Someone whose visits I eagerly await each summer.  Meet Zucchini Flower!  If you’ve already met, congratulations!  You are most well aware of the utter deliciousness unleashed by the delicate flowers of the zucchini plant. If you haven’t, just wait.  You are about to have a new BFF. 
Speaking of BFFs, I’m not the only one who dances a jig when I see these beauties draped across #5 pint-sized plastic like Marlene Dietrich on a velvet sofa.  Enter my friends, Emily Ruth and Jason Terry.  The Terrys understand the siren song that is zucchini flower frying in fat–and they know when they get THE call from the farmers market that it is time to drop everything and come over to my house for some good eatin’!  I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t give you a little back story on this.  Anyone who knows Jason Terry would not ever say, “you know, I bet his favorite food is a stuffed zucchini flower.”  Jason likes to drink Coors, he is a Hamburger Helper man and all around Good Ole’ Boy.  One would not put the two together but when I made these the other night, he proclaimed proudly, loudly, unabashedly, “Zucchini Flowers are my favorite food!”  Obviously the man has good taste…
Frying the Flowers

Final Presentation and The Big Dunk
 Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with Golden Tomato Vinaigrette
I usually make about 4 zucchini flowers per person (although honestly I bet everyone would eat double that if they could).  They are sometimes sold in the clear, plastic clamshell containers (similar to what strawberries come in) and sometimes sold like flowers, soaking in a vase of water.  Also, sometimes small zucchini are attached and sometimes not.  If they come straight from your garden, then you don’t have to worry about how they are sold!  The vinaigrette makes more than enough and is fantastic on mixed greens, drizzled over fresh mozzarella, or tossed with pasta.
Serves 6 as an appetizer
For the batter:
1 egg white (reserve the yolk)
1/2 cup of rice flour
1/2 cup of beer or sparkling water
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
Whisk the egg white until white and frothy.  Whisk in beer, followed by flour and salt.  It should be the consistency of pancake batter.
Goat Cheese Filling:
1 1/2 Tablespoons of chopped herbs (I like a mixture of parsley, chives, and basil)
1 egg yolk (reserved from above)
3/4 cup of soft goat cheese (if it is sold in 3-ounce logs, you will need 2)
3 Tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of salt and pepper
Stir all ingredients together.  Spoon into a zip-top bag.  Cut about 1/4 inch off of the tip of one of the bottom corners.  This sort of makes a pastry bag.  It works.
Golden Tomato Vinaigrette
1 Pint of golden cherry tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, smashed with the flat of your knife
2 Tablespoons of honey
1 Tablespoon of basil leaves
2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
Add all ingredients except olive oil to a blender or food processor.  Process for 1 minute, until smooth.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil.
To Prepare the Zucchini Flowers:
2 Pint-sized clamshell containers of zucchini flowers
Finished batter
Goat Cheese Filling
Golden Tomato Vinaigrette
Vegetable oil
Remove the zucchini from the zucchini flowers if attached.  Leaving the stem in tact, quarter the zucchini up to the stem lengthwise so that the pieces fan out slightly.  Gently open the zucchini flower.  There may be a protrusion inside the zucchini flower at the base.  This is the, um, oh, freshman biology was so long ago…pistol…stamen…anyway, gently pull that out and rinse the inside of the zucchini flower.  Open the petals and squeeze about 1 Tablespoon of the filling into the flower.  Meanwhile, preheat about 1 inch of vegetable  in a large skillet.  I drop a little batter in the oil to see if it is hot enough.  If the batter immediately sizzles, you’re good to go.
Dunk the stuffed flowers in the batter and place in the oil.  Cook for 1 minute and flip, using a slotted spoon.  Cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute until golden.  Remove from oil onto a paper towel lined plate.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  If you are using the tiny zucchini that you removed from the flowers, repeat the same process.  I’ve served this a couple of ways.  As you see above, tossed on a plate with a bowl of golden goodness in the middle.  I’ve also served the fried flowers on a bed of arugula, drizzled with vinaigrette.  It’s awesome either way.

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