Stuffed Zucchini Flowers on Basil Pesto
Prep time: 45 mins + standing + cooling
Cook Time: 25 mins
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12 zucchini flowers, stamens removed
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Chopped pistachios and lemon zest, to garnish
2 litres full-fat milk 60ml lemon juice
1 tsp salt
100g unsalted mixed nuts
100g cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
1 large bunch basil, leaves picked
1 cup spinach leaves
3 tbs finely grated pecorino or parmesan
½ lemon, seeded, pith removed, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ tsp chicken stock powder
125ml olive oil
300g fresh ricotta (as above)
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 egg, lightly beaten
25g finely grated pecorino cheese
100g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
Approx 150ml sparkling water
1. To make ricotta, place milk in a large saucepan over low heat. Add lemon juice and salt, and stir gently to combine. Cook until curds form on the top.
2. Remove pan from heat and set aside for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out curds into a muslin-lined sieve. Set aside to cool and drain. Transfer to a large bowl and season. Cool.
3. To make pesto, process nuts, cannellini beans, basil, spinach, pecorino, chopped lemon, garlic and stock powder to form a fine puree. With motor operating, drizzle in oil until smooth and combined. Season.
4. To make filling, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season.
5. Spoon or pipe filling into zucchini flowers, until about 2/3 fill. Gently twist petals to enclose. Do not over fill zucchini flowers or they may burst during deep frying.
6. To make batter, combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Add enough of the sparkling water to form a smooth batter, the consistency of thick cream.
7. Dip zucchini flowers in batter and allow excess to drip off.
8. Deep fry until golden and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper. Season with salt.
9. Serve stuffed zucchini flowers with pesto. Garnish with pistachios and lemon zest.
Try making a beer batter, replacing the sparkling water with light Italian beer.
How quickly the curds from when making the ricotta can depend on how acid the lemons are. Add another tablespoon of lemon juice if the curds do not form quick enough.
Store remaining fresh ricotta in the fridge for up to 3 days. Stir through pasta or spread on bagels.
If you prefer a thinner pesto, add tablespoon of oil, lemon juice or water.