Photo by Olga Massov
On their own, zucchini blossoms don't taste like much. A little grassy, a little sweet but very very mild.
Fry them up and they are delectable, but then again what isn't delectable when fried? And they make cute little packages when stuffed with cheese and such. But usually it's the cheese and such that you reallt want to eat. The blossoms just help keep your fingers clean.
This isn't to say I don't cook with zucchini blossoms. I do, but more for their color and texture than for their flavor. For this reason, I tend to combine them with caramelized onions, which pack a wallop of taste but can get a little cloying when eaten by the mound all by themselves. But adding some zucchini blossoms to the pan will lighten it all up, the blossoms helping to carry the sweet, jammy, onion flavor -- but break up the caramelly monotony.
You can use a skillet of caramelized onions and zucchini blossoms in countless places. Add it to pasta with fresh ricotta or goat cheese. Use it as the foundation for a summery tomato sauce. Spread it on top of crostini or a pizza. Or use it to fill a frittata as I do here.
Sometimes, when I have a surplus of great eggs from the farmers' market, I'll serve frittata with aioli (I know, eggy overkill but I love it). For this recipe, I showed some restraint and just added a deconstructed herb vinaigrette with some minced garlic for bite. Tomato sauce would also make a great topping for this frittata, though I usually serve it with a tomato salad on the side. Crunchy garlic bread is also nice in a texturally contrasting kind of way.
By the way, leftover frittata is excellent the next day made into a sandwich smeared with lots of leftover aioli if you made some, or regular old mayo. Stuff everything into a bagette or ciabatta with some arugula or lots of herbs. If you add bacon, you've got a fancy bacon-and-egg on a roll. But no on would dare call it that, at least not to your face.
Caramelized Onion and Zucchini Blossom Frittata
Serves 2 for dinner (serve a tomato salad alongside) or 4 as a snack with cocktails
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
8 zucchini flowers
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
6 large eggs
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated cheese (such as Gruyere or Parmesan), optional
5 basil leaves, slivered
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
Flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper, for garnish
1. With the baking rack positioned in the middle, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In an ovenproof skillet (nonstick is good) over medium-high heat, add the onion (without oil) and let sear without moving until very dark brown on one side (don't worry if it blackens in spots, that's a good thing as long as it's not black all over). Add oil, zucchini blossoms, salt, red pepper flakes, and cook until the blossoms are soft, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low.
2. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook, stirring a few times with a wooden spoon or spatula (much like scrambled eggs), making sure to scrape under the eggs around the edges of the pan. and when the eggs start to firm up, pat them down. When the eggs are about halfway cooked with large quivering curds amidst rivers of runny eggs, transfer the skillet to the oven to finish the cooking, about 5 minutes longer (though watch carefully, this can vary a lot depending on how cooked the eggs are when you put the pan in the oven). You are not looking for brown, just for the eggs to be set. However, if you want a golden brown top that puffs up nicely, sprinkle cheese on top of the set frittata and cook under a broiler for 1 minute to melt and brown the cheese.
3. While the frittata is in the oven, in a bowl, mix together the herbs, lemon juice, and garlic. Serve frittata garnished with the herb mixture, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper.