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Stuffed Zucchini Flower Tempura with Tomato Sauce

Ingredients
Serves:
Tempura Batter
2 cup s
all-purpose flour
1/2 cup
cornstarch
1/4 cup
rice flour
1 tablespoon
baking powder
1 tablespoon
salt
1 teaspoon
cayenne pepper
3 cup s
soda water
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
8 ounce s
mild creamy goat cheese, at room temperature
5
sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
2 tablespoon s
chopped chervil
2 tablespoon s
chopped chives
1 teaspoon
chopped rosemary leaves
salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon s
extra-virgin olive oil
16
zucchini flowers, cleaned
Tomato Sauce
5 tablespoon s
extra-virgin olive oil or melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup
finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon
minced garlic
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 cup s
peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon
sugar
4
thyme sprigs, leaves removed and minced
4
basil leaves, cut crosswise into thin strips
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
16
large fresh basil leaves, patted completely dry with paper towels
  1. Sift the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, rice flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne into a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine them. A little at a time, whisk in the soda water until a batter forms that is fluid but thick and creamy enough to coat the back of a spoon. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour.
  2. One at a time, carefully open a zucchini flower and insert an oblong of goat cheese into its center. Gently press the filling down into the base of the blossom and the petals around the filling to enclose it completely, pinching together the petals at their tips to seal them. Place the stuffed flowers on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes and sauté, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes start to reduce to a sauce consistency, about 15 minutes. Stir in the thyme, basil, and remaining olive oil. Cover and keep the sauce warm until serving time.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, fill an automatic deep-fryer with vegetable oil, or fill a deep, heavy pot half full with oil; heat the oil to 375°F. Holding a stuffed zucchini flower by its stem, dip it into the tempura batter, coating it completely and letting excess batter drip back into the bowl. Carefully drop the flower into the hot oil. Repeat with the remaining flowers. Fry the flowers until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, turning them a few times with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon to make sure they cook evenly. Lift them out of the oil with the deep-fryer basket, skimmer, or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  5. Immediately drop the basil leaves into the hot oil, taking care to avoid splattering, and submerge them with the skimmer or slotted spoon. When they turn dark green and stop splattering, after only about 10 seconds, remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Goat Cheese Filling

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients, mashing them together with a fork, until the mixture is smooth and creamy but firm enough to mold, adding a little more oil if necessary to get the right consistency. Shape the mixture into oblongs, each about 1 heaping tablespoon, placing them on a plate.

Spoon the Tomato Sauce onto individual heated serving plates. Place 2 fried squash blossoms on each plate and garnish with 2 fried basil leaves. Serve immediately.

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About this Recipe

The large, delicate blossoms of the abundant summer squash may be found in farmer's markets. When cooked, they have a tender texture and a subtle flavor that makes them an ideal appetizer. Deep-frying in a light, tempura-style batter works perfectly for the flowers, especially when they are stuffed with a creamy goat-cheese filling.

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