I got to know that marrow flowers are edible whilst I was dining in Milan with my colleagues, and let me tell you they tasted really good. We had asked the steward for his suggestions and he told us to leave it in his hands for the appetizer. I remember asking him what he was going to get us, but we didn’t really understand what he said, just that it is exceptionally good. When the plate was presented to us and we tasted them, we asked again what they were, and then I learnt that the dish in front of us were zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and coated in batter. They were deep fried but divine just the same. The more I mentioned the dish to people the more I learnt that it was a common Italian recipe. Since then, I had wanted to create my own healthier version. I still used ricotta for the filling since I like ricotta a lot. The batter has been modified to my own and of course no frying is involved.
It is not common to find zucchini flowers for sale in Malta, and in fact I never did. I got these flowers from a local farmer who was selling freshly picked marrows at the farmers market but he was actually using them to decorate. It’s a shame that they are most of the time thrown away. If you do find young marrows with the flowers still on I invite you to try this easy but very tasting dish as an appetizer or finger food. Make sure you use freshly picked marrow flowers as they tend to change taste once they start withering. Enjoy!
These are the flowers before going into the oven.
- 8 zucchini flowers washed and air dried with stem still on
- 250g ricotta
- 8 fresh basil leaves
- 4 mint leaves
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups ground almonds
- 1 tablespoon harissa spice (or 1 teaspoon chili powder if not available)
- salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven at 200 degrees celcius. I used electric oven.
- Chop the basil and mint leaves and mix them with the ricotta together with some salt and pepper. Put this mixture aside.
- In a separate bowl beat the egg lightly with fork and set aside.
- Use another bowl to mix the ground almonds with harissa spice and more salt and pepper. If you are unable to find harissa spice, use 1 teaspoon of mild chilly powder.
- Prepare an oven dish lined with baking paper.
- Start by filling the flowers with the ricotta filling leaving space enough to comfortably close the flower.
- Dip one flower in the egg mixture and then in the almond mixture making sure you get an even coat on each side.
- Place the stuffed flower on the oven dish and repeat the process for all the flowers.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes, and then turn over and bake for another 15 minutes. I used the stem to help me turn over the flowers.
- Keep an eye on them so that they do not burn. Heating might vary depending on ovens.
- Once baked, remove the stem and serve warm or cold.