During a recent trip to the farmers market I noticed an unusually long line at one of the stands. It seemed like they were selling the same vegetables as everyone else, but then I spotted them – zucchini flowers. No other stand had them that day and they were nice and fresh. Five dollars for a good sized container. I hopped in line and bought some.
So then I had to decide what to do with them. Zucchini flowers were made for stuffing, but the only question is with what. I love stuffing them with crab or lobster, but that’s obviously not your everyday dinner. Even plain cheese is nice, but I wanted something different. I decided on polenta. I had never done it before, but it sounded like it might work. When soft polenta cools it is easy to stuff into things (especially with the help of a pastry bag), and when reheated it regains its creamy texture. The crispness of the fried zucchini flower provided a nice contrast to the soft filling. It was a very satisfying dish (and next time I think I’ll add some lobster).
Polenta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers (serves 4-6)
24 zucchini flowers
2-1/2 cups water or stock
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I used lemon thyme, rosemary and sage)
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup diced cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
Flour for dredging
2 cups Japanese breadcrumbs
Wash the flowers and remove the stamen from the center. Bring the water or stock to a boil with the fresh herbs. Whisk in the cornmeal, salt and pepper. Cook and stir on medium-low heat until thick. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
Add the cheeses when the polenta is cool. Fill each flower with the polenta – a pastry bag makes it easy, otherwise use a small spoon. Coat the flowers with flour. Lightly beat the eggs, then dip in the flowers. Finally, coat each flower with the breadcrumbs and fry in a large skillet over medium heat until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.