Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

I was blessed with these gorgeous zucchini blossoms, thanks to my mom’s contractor, who happens to have three acres in upstate Connecticut and, apparently, plenty of zucchini plants.  Just because winter is coming doesn’t mean beautiful produce ends.

I usually like to toss squash blossoms into saffron risotto at the end of cooking.  However, with such a big bag of blossoms I felt I had enough that I could do some experimenting.  I knew I wanted to try stuffing them, but usually that includes a breadcrumb filling followed by deep frying.  I wanted to make them gluten free and definitely not fried, as I prefer to avoid heating oils to such high levels.

This combo seems to straddle summer and fall, with herbs like basil, mint and thyme, heavily sprinkled into a mixture of goat cheese, lemon and sweet potato.

This is a beta-carotene-filled snack, thanks to the orange petals and the sweet potatoes.  Also, the fresh herbs have highly concentrated amounts of phytochemicals, which ward off viruses and other more serious ailments.  In particular, mint is known to calm digestion, which especially important for those who struggle with IBS.  Also, basil is an especially powerful anti-inflammatory, which is key for those who suffer from arthritis or other joint pain.  In addition, the oils in thyme are shown to be highly antimicrobial, which means consuming more thyme helps fight bad bacteria so you don’t get sick as easily.  Sounds better than that multivitamin, no?

You definitely want to serve these nutritional tasties immediately while hot, as they lose their texture a bit as they sit and the petals lose their crisp.  I think they’re great alone, but you could serve with a mildly flavored dipping sauce as an appetizer or top a salad or risotto with them.


Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

What you need:

2 medium/large sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks

1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil, plus more for drizzling

11-15 zucchini blossoms, stamens removed

4 ounces soft goat cheese

5 sprigs fresh thyme, picked

1/3 cup fresh mint, finely chopped (plus more, very thinly sliced, for serving)

1/2 cup basil leaves, finely chopped

one lemon, zested and juiced (about 1 tablespoon of juice)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

salt, to taste

2 eggs, lightly whipped

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Toss sweet potato chunks with oil and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet.

While sweet potatoes roast, mix together goat cheese, thyme leaves, mint, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

When sweet potatoes are crisp-tender (about 20 minutes), put in bowl with goat cheese mixture and mash together with a fork.  Taste for lemon, salt and pepper.  Adjust as needed and add eggs.  Mix well.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

Line the same baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment and lightly grease with oil.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

Using a small spoon, scoop the goat cheese-sweet potato mixture into blossoms (it’s okay if they split, just wrap the petals around the stuffing) and arrange on prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and bake for about 20 minutes, until they’re beginning to brown and crisp.  They will also be nice and puffy :).

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

Sprinkle with thinly sliced mint and serve alone or with a dipping sauce.  I like my Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce ;).

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

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Summer Cold Green Bean Salad

This is a pretty simple salad but I thought I’d share it anyway.  You can easily play with this by adding things like walnuts, goat cheese or olives.  I’ve kept it clean by leaving out oil, but feel free to add some.

The picture is of Version 1, but I thought I’d include the recipe for Version 2 as I did it a while ago and really enjoyed it.

Serves 4

What you need:

10 oz FRESH green beans, ends trimmed

2 heirloom tomatoes, diced

Salt and Pepper

Version 1:

Handful sweet basil, torn into pieces

2 endives, chopped in thirds and leaves separated

Balsamic

Version 2:

Handful fresh dill, minced

1-2 oz goat cheese

Fresh lemon juice

Red wine vinegar

What to do:

Trim green beans and blanch in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes.  Strain and let cool.

While green beans are cooling, put tomatoes in medium-sized bowl and add the acid ingredients (Version 1: balsamic; Version 2: lemon juice and red wine vinegar) and oil, if using.

Once beans are cooled, add to bowl along with endives and basil for Version 1 or goat cheese and dill for Version 2.  Season salt and pepper and toss to coat.

You can either serve immediately or let marinate for a few hours.

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Minted Zucchini Soup (Vellutata di Zucchini alla Menta)

This is a very quick and easy soup that’s also oil free.  I usually have it warm, but it’s also great chilled on a hot summer day.

What you need:

4 zucchini

2 shallots, roughly chopped

½ yellow onion, roughly chopped

4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1/3 cup fresh mint leaves

5 oz fresh baby spinach (about 4 handfuls)

Juice from 1 lemon

1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to serve

goat cheese or yogurt (not 0%), to serve

torn mint, to serve

What to do:

Throw zucchini, shallots, onion and broth into a pot and bring to a boil.  Once boiled, turn heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are soft.

Stir in mint leaves, spinach, lemon, salt and pepper.  Purée in blender or with an immersion blender.  Adjust lemon, salt and pepper.

Serve immediately and top with goat cheese or yogurt, pepper and a sprinkling of torn mint.  (Great cold too!)

Vellutata di Zucchini alla Menta:

Cosa Serve:

4 zucchini

2 scalogni, spezzettati

½ cipolla gialla, spezzettata

4 tazze di brodo di cipolla o di verdura

1 manciata piccola di menta fresca

4 manciate di spinaci freschi

succo di 1 limone

1/2 – 1 cucchiaino di sale

1/4 cucchiaino di pepe nero

formaggio di capra o yogurt intero, per servire

menta fresca strappata, per servire

Come Fare:

Mettete zucchini, scalogni, cipolla e brodo in una pentola e fate bollire.   Quando bollente, abbassate la fiamma e fate cuocere finché siano cotte le verdure.

Serve immediately and top with goat cheese or yogurt, pepper and a sprinkling of chopped mint.

Aggiungete la menta, gli spinaci, il limone, il sale e il pepe.  Frullate tutto nel mixer e aggiustate il limone, il sale e il pepe.

Servite immediatamente e metteteci sopra una cucchiaiata di formaggio di capra o di yogurt, un pizzico di pepe e un pò di menta strappata.  (Buonissima anche fredda!)

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