To me, zucchini blossoms are the unicorns of the vegetable world. There are so fleeting and hard-to-find, sometimes I’m not sure they exist. But when I do stumble across them, they are precious, delicate, expensive. I become covetous all over. I have to have them.
This time, the blossom sighting occurred in Connecticut. I was staying at the parents’ house of a good friend, and they had a garden overrun by summer. They can’t pick the tomatoes fast enough. As we pulled away, my friend’s mother came to me, shoving a paper bag into my hands. Tomatoes. Zucchini in three colors. Carrots. Zinnias. “Take them,” she pleaded.
On the way back to the city, we stopped at a country market, and there, gleaming bright in their little plastic case, were the blossoms. It was the last box. And only $4. I shouted to Mr. English, jumping up and down: “Zucchini blossoms! Zucchini blossoms!” He told me he’d meet me by the cash register.
I arrived home with whole wheat pizza dough, lemons, and my treasure in tow. In my fridge, I had ricotta cheese, thyme, Parmesan, and pine nuts. I rolled out the dough, ribbon-ed the zucchini with a vegetable peeler, and began to assemble. Lemon zest and juice went into the ricotta, the base layer. Then the zucchini, yellow and green. Then the blossoms, stamens removed, laid out flat. Then the parmesan, the thyme, the pine nuts. Sea salt and olive oil. I used my brand new pizza stone, and the result was heaven. I think it would work just as well to leave the lemon ricotta off before baking, and then spoon little pillows of it, cold and fresh, and the hot pizza straight from the oven.
I sat munching my summertime treasure on the couch, already dreaming of my next unicorn sighting. Because next time, I’m making zucchini blossom and saffron risotto. I can’t wait!
1 cup ricotta cheese
Zest from ½ lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
¼ pound zucchini flowers
1 pound whole wheat pizza dough
½ cup Parmesan, freshly grated
6 – 8 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons pine nuts
4 teaspoons olive oil
Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place your pizza stone in the oven on the middle rack.
Prep your ingredients. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper. Using a Y-peeler, strip the zucchini into ribbons, leaving aside the seeds at the middle. Clean the zucchini flowers by slicing them in half and removing the stamen. Set everything aside.
Divide the dough in two rounds. Using some flour to help you roll out the dough, roll the dough to a thin round about 13 inches in diameter. Very carefully, using oven mitts, pull the pizza stone out of the oven. Arrange the dough on the hot stone. Spread the dough with half the ricotta mixture, leaving about a ½ inch border for the crust. Then drape zucchini ribbons in a single layer across the top of the ricotta, followed by half the zucchini flowers. Top with half the Parmesan, and a nice pinch of salt. Then, top with leaves from half the thyme stems, and half of the pine nuts. Drizzle with half the olive oil. Cook in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes, until crisp. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients.print this recipe