Veg Out With This Stuffed Zucchini Blossom Tempura Salad
Zucchini blossoms are the delicate flowers that emerge from the zucchini plant. Male (not attached to a zucchini) flowers are larger, so they’re easier to stuff. They’re as tasty as they are beautiful. The blossoms have been a delicacy in Italian cuisine forever, and I grew up eating them. You can eat them raw, saute them, fry them or stuff them. Get them now, because they’ll soon be gone until next summer.
In this recipe I stuff them with herbed goat cheese, dip them in a tempura batter and fry them in olive oil (or you can use coconut oil) until they’re crispy and golden.
Then I made a mix of romaine, arugula, frisee and radicchio, which I tossed with a ginger-turmeric vinaigrette. This salad is anything but boring!
Stuffed Zucchini Blossom Tempura Salad
- A mix of fresh greens (two to three cups per person)
- 3 blossoms per person (inside pistil removed — it’s edible, but easier to stuff this way)
- 1 tablespoon herbed goat cheese per blossom (see below)
- 1 cup of tempura batter (see below)
- 1 cup of ginger/turmeric vinaigrette (you’ll have plenty leftover for other salads)
- About 2 cups of olive (or coconut) oil for frying
- 1/2 cup organic flour
- 1/2 cup organic cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 cup club soda
- pinch of salt, pepper and turmeric
Herbed goat cheese:
- Mix about 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh herbs for every 3 - 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) of softened cheese.
- I like to use a mix of parsley, basil, oregano and thyme but you can use whatever you like.
Vinaigrette (makes enough for the salad with plenty left over):
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- Pinch of salt, pepper and turmeric
Directions for vinaigrette:
Place all ingredients except oil in a mixing bowl
Very slowly add the oil, first a few drops at a time until it starts to thicken, then in a steady stream while briskly mixing with a wire whisk. You can also use a blender or food processor to do this. Adding the oil very slowly while the blade (or your whisk) is turning will allow the mixture to emulsify, thickening it which allows it to better coat the greens.
Directions for salad:
Prepare the goat cheese, the batter and the vinaigrette
Add about 3 inches of oil to a small saucepan and heat until hot but not smoking (about 350 degrees Fahrenheit). Test its readiness by adding a small amount of batter. If it immediately begins to sizzle, it’s ready.
In the meantime, lightly clean each blossom with a damp paper towel. Fill each blossom with about one tablespoon of cheese. If you have blossoms in your garden, it’s best to pick and fill them in the morning when the blossoms are open since they close later in the day. If you don’t have a garden with zucchini, you can get the blossoms at most farmers' markets. They sell out fast, though, so go early. You can get them at various organic or local produce markets.
When the oil is ready, dip each blossom in the batter until it’s covered and let any excess drip off. If too much drips off then the batter is too thin, so add a bit more flour. It should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.
Add the blossom to the oil, one or two at a time. It will immediately begin to puff and start turning golden. Turn to cook on the other side, and when both are a golden color (about 2 minutes), remove and place it on paper towels to absorb any extra oil. Repeat for all the blossoms.
Toss the greens with a few tablespoons of the dressing until well coated and place on individual plates. Top with the blossoms.
Note: I used the same batter to make vegetable tempura and sometimes I use them over greens. In this photo I added a couple of tempura onions as well. They were so sweet and yummy.