Most often, when you see zucchini blossoms on restaurant menus, they are stuffed with cheese, then battered and deep-fried. A deep-fried blossom is not a terrible thing, of course, but this recipe, where the flowers are stuffed with an herb-flecked ricotta cheese and braised in fresh tomato puree, is a lighter approach. One note: Do not overstuff the blossoms with the cheese mixture, or it will leak out when you pan-fry them.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, Pecorino Romano, egg, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and the basil.
- Carefully open each zucchini blossom by making a slit on one side, taking care not to slice all the way through, checking for any bugs or dirt hidden within, and fill with about 2 teaspoons of the ricotta mixture, gently twisting the blossom closed.
- Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the stuffed blossoms in a single layer and cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides, about 2 minutes each side. Use a slotted spoon to gently transfer the blossoms to a plate.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the sofritto. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then pour in the tomato puree. Stir in the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and let the tomato mixture reduce until thickened, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt.
- Arrange the blossoms in a single layer on top of the tomato puree. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more, until the blossoms are heated through and the sauce is as thick as marinara sauce. Serve warm, accompanied by crusty bread or alongside pasta or polenta.
- In a large, heavy frying pan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and caramelized, about 1½ hours. Let cool, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
- Spoon the sofritto into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a plastic freezer storage bag. Keep in the freezer until ready to use; the sofritto will keep, frozen, for up to 6 months.
Excerpted from “Home Cooked: Essential Recipes for a New Way to Cook” by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography copyright © 2016 by Brown W. Cannon III.