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.
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.
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.
Line the same baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment and lightly grease with oil.
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 :).
Sprinkle with thinly sliced mint and serve alone or with a dipping sauce. I like my Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce ;).