8718 Grant Line Road
Elk Grove, California 95624

Phone: 916.240-1936 

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26 June In the Vannatta garden/kitchen...

               Zucchini Parmesan and Fried Squash Bloosoms

It's that time of year when the garden comes to life bearing first the early tomatoes and an abundance of zucchini. If your zucchini plants are super productive, then you'll want to switch up your cooking methods (a person can only take so much sauteed zucchini, after all). Try turning your zucchinis into zoodles (zucchini noodles), fritters, veggie burgers, and even chocolate cake! This simple layered casserole has been one of my favorite this past Spring with three elements: roasted zucchini, a really good homemade tomato sauce and Parmesan.And don't forget the squash bloosoms! In Italy, they're usually dipped in batter and fried, and then served with salt and pepper. In Mexico, they're added to soups and quesadillas.The ones that come attached to a small baby squash are female blossoms; the ones without squash are male blossoms. Both are delicious. 

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 2 to 2½ pounds fresh ripe tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste)

  •  Salt and pepper

  • ⅛ teaspoon sugar

  • 2 sprigs fresh basil

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

FOR THE ZUCCHINI PARMESAN:

  • 2 to 2¼ pounds zucchini

  •  Salt and pepper

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (pepperoncini), to taste

  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan

PREPARATION

  1. If you have a food mill, quarter tomatoes. If not, peel, seed and chop them. (See step 5.)

  2. To make tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, and add tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and basil sprigs. Increase heat to medium-high. When tomatoes are bubbling briskly, stir and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until tomatoes have cooked down and are beginning to stick to pan, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on consistency. Remove basil sprigs; taste and adjust seasoning.

  4. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment. Trim ends off zucchini and cut in half crosswise, then into lengthwise slices, about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. Season on both sides with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange zucchini slices on baking sheets in one layer and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Roast for 12 minutes, until lightly browned and easily pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees.

  5. If using a food mill, put sauce through medium blade. If not, pulse sauce in a food processor fitted with steel blade until just coarsely puréed. Stir in chopped basil.

  6. To assemble the dish, oil a 2-quart gratin with olive oil. Spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce over bottom of dish. Arrange a third of the zucchini in an even layer over tomato sauce. Spoon a third of remaining sauce over zucchini and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat with 2 more layers, ending with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Drizzle on remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and browned on the top and edges. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Squash Bloosoms

PREPARATION:

In a bowl, mix the flour with the egg using a fork. Once you have a fairly smooth mixture, dilute it by slowly adding half a glass of water and continuing to stir until the batter is as smooth and thick as puree.

Carefully wash the squash blossoms removing the pistil, drain and gently dry them using paper towels.

Place a large pan on the heat and add enough oil to completely cover the blossoms when frying. In the meanwhile, dip the squash blossoms in the batter, turn them gently and, when the oil start to smoke, fry them, a few at a time, then. Once nicely golden, drain them on paper towels.

Sprinkle over some salt, arrange them on a plate and serve immediately.

  • 15 squash blossoms

  • 7 oz all-purpose flour

  • 1 egg

  • frying oil to taste

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • ½ cup sparkling water

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