Sunday, 7 December 2014

Zucchini flowers with rice, roast pumpkin, and strawberry dumplings

Aren't zucchini flowers exactly what every blogger dreams of in a vegetable!  They are photogenic and unusual and seasonal.  Of course I was excited to see them at Coburg Farmers Market.  Yet they are not really my sort of thing.  So ridiculously delicate and they love creamy fillings.

I gave them rice and miso harissa roasted pumpkin.  Perhaps the most successful part of the meal was the strawberry dumplings for dessert.

It was my first time cooking with zucchini flowers.  I did eat some at a cafe many years ago.  So I searched the net for ideas.  Here is a selection of some of the recipes I found:

I liked the notion of stuffing the flowers with a rice mixture.  Especially one that used some mint from the garden.  I blended a recipe that baked the flowers with rice stuffing and one that cooked them on the stovetop like dolmades.  I always end up with more stuffing than whatever needs to be stuffed.  So I cooked the extra rice stuffing and the flowers together.

I thought it looked really pretty but to be honest I wasn't sure it was worth the effort of stuffing the flowers.  Perhaps it would be just as easy to lay them on top with no stuffing.  Or they would be good on the rice with a little bit of creamy ricotta or cashew cream filling.  I would definitely do it again and perhaps even use it for a centrepiece at a fancy dinner.  Given that I could find zucchini flowers at the right time!

Stuffing the flowers was quite a palaver.  As I started to think about doing it, I stumbled across Cakelaw talking about how putting the flowers in the fridge actually made them stick together more.  Sadly her advice was too late for me.  My zucchini flowers had been in the fridge a few days.  And yes they were stuck together and hard to stuff.  After all there is not much room for stuffing anyway.  At least the stamens came out without too much effort.

Sylvia would not eat the zucchini flowers.  She told us that they might have bees wee on them.  At least she ate a small bowl of the rice.  She didn't scream blue murder but she wasn't overly keen.  We have got to a point though where she is making more of an effort to eat what we are eating.  The little victories are sweet!

While I was pleased with the zucchini dumplings I was on more familiar ground with trying some miso harissa roasted pumpkin from Vegan Miam.  It gave far more return for little effort compared to the flours.  I roasted it in a pan that I knew would cope with some charring.  And it was lovely.  Soft melting pumpkin flesh with crispy skin.  The pumpkin and the rice would make a satisfying meal even without the zucchini flowers.

My other exciting purchase on the same weekend was 1 kilogram of strawberries for $5 at Batman Market.  It is the sort of purchase that is amazing at the time and then leaves me wondering what to do with them.  I didn't want to make jam.  I made icy poles and had heaps left.  So I searched Eat Your Books and found an amazing dessert of dumplings in a strawberry sauce at Smitten Kitchen.

I told Sylvia I was making dumplings.  Like a typical child she took great opposition to the unknown.  'Yuk' she exclaimed because asking what they were like.  'A bit like cake' I suggested to steer her onto familiar ground.  That was the least of my problems.

I didn't read the recipe and got my timing all wrong, the sauce burnt at the bottom of the pan, and my idea of trying white chocolate in the dumplings (inspired by a recipe a friend once made me) made no impact on the flavour.  But who cares when it tasted so good!

The dessert was far better than I expected.  The berries cooked down to a fruity sauce that was more intense than fresh berries but still tasted like fruit rather than syrup.  The dumplings were soft and soaked up the sauce.  Sylvia told me how much she loved it and that it tasted like cake.  E suggested treacle dumplings (at which I pointed out golden syrup dumplings on my blog).

What I really loved about this dish was that it was a great way of using up lots of strawberries without using the oven or preserving in jars.  I love cakes but strawberries seem to disappear into them and I am not great at layer cakes with cream and berries or trifles.  This dish is best fresh and needs to be eaten warm.  However with some ice cream or our favourite vanilla yoghurt it is perfect for summer. 

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: ANZAC biscuits with cranberries and chocolate
Two years ago: Edinburgh Castle views and the Deacon's Hoose
Three years ago: CC Chesterfield Farm and Smoky Red Pepper Hummus
Four years ago: Cheese & pesto muffins and breakfast routine
Five years ago: Edinburgh Winter Wonderland
Six years ago: Memories, BBQs, and Bangers & Mash
Seven years ago: How green was my mole?

Zucchini flowers with rice
Adapted from SBS and Almost Turkish
serves 2 to 3

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (1 handful)
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint (1 handful)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup tomato passata
1/4 cup water
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
6 (or more) zucchini flowers with baby zucchini attached

Fry onion in oil over medium heat in a large saucepan for a few minutes or until golden brown.  Stir in herbs, cumin, mustard, and salt.  Fry for about a minutes.  Mix in passata, water and rice.  Bring to the boil and simmer on medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes.  The rice will still be quite hard.

Remove stamens from the flowers and trim the baby zucchinis.  Gently prise open flowers and stuff as many zucchini flowers  as possible with the rice mixture.

Spread remaining rice in a very large frypan.  Arrange flowers on top.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Pour in 2 1/2 cups of boiling water into frypan.  Bring to the boil and then simmer over medium heat for about 25 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is cooked.  (If rice is not cooked, add a little extra water and boil for another 5 or 10 minutes.)

Miso harissa roasted pumpkin
Adapted from Vegan Miam
serves 2-4 as a side dish

400g butternut pumpkin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white miso
1/2 tbsp harissa
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1 tsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 220 C.  Trim pumpkin but leave skin on.  Cut into wedges or slices.  Mix remaining ingredients to make a marinade.  Toss with pumpkin a roasting tray.  Roast for 50 to 70 minutes, turning occasionally until pumpkin is soft and slightly charred around the edges.  (I did 70 minutes but my oven is quite slow.)

Strawberry dumplings
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 2-3

400g strawberries, hulled and sliced thickly
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp butter or margarine (or white chocolate)
1/2 cup self raising flour

Mix strawberries, brown sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan.  (Mine is about 18cm in diameter.)  Set aside for 15 minutes to let the berries release the juices.

Meanwhile make the dumplings by heating the milk and butter enough to melt the butter.  Mix in the flour to make quite a stiff batter.

Bring the berries to the boil slowly on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Drop spoonfuls (about the size of golf balls) into the strawberry mixture.

Cover and turn heat down low.  Simmer for 15-18 minutes without lifting lid.  Dumplings will have expanded and be spongy to touch when done. 

On the Stereo:
God: Johnny Cash

I've crammed a lot into this post and so there is lots to share in the following blog events:

On the Stereo:
Christmas: Low


  1. Those stuffed courgette flowers sound amazing and so beautifully presented. That strawberry pudding looks so fresh and fruity too.

    1. Thanks Katie - the strawberry pudding was really fruity which is just the way I like it - I think E might have thought it too much fruit :-)

  2. Your zucchini flowers look so pretty! And the strawberry dumplings sound very moorish. Bees wee LOL ...

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - don't know where she got the bees wee from but at least it was a creative excuse :-)

  3. Gosh Johanna, what an impressive meal! I admire your patience with stuffing the flowers and really like the stuffing you chose. The strawberry dumplings sound lovely too and I like their minimal ingredient list.

    1. Thanks Kari - I was impressed at how simple the dumplings were - but I am not sure I have the patience for a lot of zucchini flower stuffing (I only had 6 which was quite enough for me)

  4. ooh i love the zucchini flowers and i haven't had dumplings for ages!

    1. Thanks Cate - I think it is the weather for dumplings in your side of the world - the stodgier the better :-)

  5. But did you taste any bees' weez in the flowers? I love zucchini flowers even though they are delicate to handle and a bit fiddly. But they sure are pretty and lovely to eat. I've never stuffed them with rice but instead gone down the cheesy road then fried them in a light batter. How lovely to have so many strawberries and I like the idea of turning them into icy poles xx

    1. Thanks Charlie - I am not sure what bees' weez tastes like - it might be quite sweet :-) I was a bit intimidated about battering and frying zucchini flowers so I quite liked the stovetop steaming. And the strawberry icy poles are great - sylvia even had to invite one of her friends over to sample one.

  6. Wow! Those strawberry dumplings sound amazing! I love the idea of these......original and inspiring! I have to admit though.... I always look at courgette flowers and wonder whether they are style over substance?

    1. Thanks Kate - the strawberry dumplings were indeed a revelation - I have ever wondered about trying it with other fruit. I have wondered the same thing about zucchini flowers - they are so pretty but I wonder if it worth the effort.

  7. Hi Johanna:)
    I must say, I'm a bit taken back by the size of those zucchini flowers. Don't get me wrong, the presentation is gorgeous. I'm just surprised that they seem to have some of the stalk of the vegetable attached. Maybe its just the way I'm looking at them. I was under the impression that there was a way to distinguish the male flowers from the female. The male flowers, I thought, were the ones which are used for stuffing. Yours look like females.

    The strawberry dumplings sound wonderful. Oh to be in strawberry season:) Soon...soon...Thanks for sharing, Johanna...

    P.S. If you get a minute, drop by my blog I made brownies that I think you will approve of:)

    1. Thanks Louise - I had a quick look about male and female flowers online - seemed to me you could eat both but I couldn't work out if mine looked male or female but I am happy to take it from you. I think I was more impressed with the tenderness of the young zucchini than the flowers. I will be over to see your brownies soon.

  8. Wow Johanna this all looks incredible! I've never cooked with zucchini flowers before but would like to try it now! And those strawberry dumplings - I wish I had them in front of me right now, gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Kate - I am not sure I feel the need to cook with zucchini flowers regularly but I suspect if I see their beautiful flowers again I will fall for them once more. Highly recommend the dumplings

  9. WOW! Johanna, these are TWO fabulous recipes and I love the stuffed flowers in particular, such a great summer party recipe! LOVE your photos too......Karen

    1. Thanks Karen - I was really interested to have a go at zucchini flowers - hopefully I wont find them so intimidating next time. It would make a great summer party recipe.

  10. Nice idea of stuffing them with rice-you always see them stuffed with goats cheese! And nice use of the berries too. Sometimes you just don't want to make a jam! :D

    1. Thanks Lorraine - I think the rice worked ok but I still feel like a novice with zucchini flowers

  11. How fun is this? I think I've seen the tops of zucchini flowers at the market before, I never realised what they were. This dish is so pretty & delicious sounding! Thank you for sharing it at Healthy Vegan Fridays =) I have pinned your recipe to our Pinterest Board.

  12. Yes, you're absolutely right about the zucchini flowers - they're so pretty to look at (let alone taste!) I never seem to be able to find any whenever they're in season (or at any time of year for that matter) but yours remind me they're worth seeking out.

  13. I've never tried courgette flowers Johanna. They do look good on a plate though, don't they. Very swish. Pudding looks excellent! Thanks for submitting them to Bookmarked Reipes. The roundup is now live.

  14. What a beautiful dish! I've never had the privilege of trying zucchini flowers. Maybe this year! Thank you for linking up with the #ShopLocalChallenge and I wish you all the best for the new year!


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