Torta ai fiori di zucca: zucchini flower quiche (recipe)

Torta ai fiori di zucca
Torta ai fiori di zucca

 

For every zucchini grown, there is a beautiful saffron flower. Unfortunately in many countries this is allowed to die and never gets seen: in Italy, they are picked and eaten as a delicacy in themselves.

Torta ai fiori di zucca
Zucchini flowers fresh from the garden at La Madera

 

The first time I ever ate zucchini flowers was in a restaurant in Florence. It was up a side street from the Cathedral and didn’t look anything special: wooden tables, no tablecloths but plain oblongs of brown paper on which, at the end of the meal the waiter would write down what you had eaten and add it up as the bill. Zucchini flowers fried in batter was listed as a contorno or vegetable side and we ordered it not imagining what was to come.

Torta ai fiori di zucca
Torta ai fiori di zucca

 

The waiter presented us with the largest bowl of zucchini flowers I had ever or have seen ever since, each perfectly crunchy and filled with an extraordinary buttery flavour and fondant texture. I can’t remember what the main dish was as it was outshone by these little sun-coloured flowers. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Torta ai fiori di zucca
Torta ai fiori di zucca

 

We have eight zucchini plants growing in the vegetable patch at La Madera, which at this time of year provide us with an almost unmanageable number of flowers. I developed this recipe a couple of weeks ago to take to a pool party at a friend’s house where it went down so well I just had to make it again.

Torta ai fiori di zucca
Torta ai fiori di zucca

 

To prepare the zucchini flowers, first wash them thoroughly in running water and pat dry on kitchen paper. Then peel away the green tendrils by the base of the flower, gently open the petals and remove the yellow stamen. Then they are good to go.

We enjoyed this torta with a beautiful bottle of white wine which I will be writing about later, so stay tuned. Buon appetito!

 

Torta ai fiori di zucca

Serves 6-8

Preparation time: 30 mins

Rest time: 2 hrs

Cooking time: 40 mins

Total time: 3 hrs 10 mins

 

Ingredients

For the pastry case:
250g (2 cups) plain flour
125g (1/2 cup) butter
a pinch of salt
1 egg
100g (3/4 cup) water

 

For the filling:
1 onion
extra virgin olive oil for frying
balsamic vinegar
1 small egg plant, diced
8 zucchini flowers
150g (3/4 cup) parmesan cheese, grated
150ml (2/3 cup) milk
150ml (2/3 cup) single cream
3 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

Make the pastry case:

  1. Rub the flour, butter, and salt together in a bowl with your fingers until they have the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg and mix together.
  3. Add as much water as you need to bring the mixture together into a dough.
  4. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  5. Roll the pastry out and use it to line a 26 cm (10 inch) patisserie ring or flan dish. Prick the base with a fork.
  6. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  7. Line the case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes at 180° C (355° F). Remove the beans and bake for another 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from the patisserie ring and allow to cool completely.

 

Make the filling:

  1. Cut the onion in half and cut into thin slices.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until golden. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar to deglaze and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely.
  3. Add another two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and add the diced egg plant and another pinch of salt. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant has turned a uniform grey colour. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely.
  4. When the pastry case is cool, fill the bottom with parmesan cheese. Then spread the onion on top followed by the egg plant.
  5. Arrange the zucchini flowers on top to make a nice pattern.
  6. Place the milk, cream, and eggs in a measuring jug. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Whisk the mixture until the eggs have been incorporated.
  7. Pour the milk, cream, and egg mixture into the pastry case being careful to fill it evenly.
  8. Place in the oven and bake at 180° C (355° F). for 35-40 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

 

8 thoughts on “Torta ai fiori di zucca: zucchini flower quiche (recipe)

  1. This looks so delicious Luca. I’m always looking for ways to use aubergines. I find myself making caponata with it most of the time. Not that I mind, I love caponata, but you need really good aubergines for it and so often they are pretty tasteless here!

    1. Caponata is delicious but there are so many ways to enjoy aubergines. It’s quite easy to cook them badly but when they are well cooked they are almost like cheese. My favourite vegetable. Have you done them in a parmigiana? I feel I need to do one and post that very soon. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. This was delicious Luca and as well as its delicate flavours, its a great looking dish for a centre piece in a buffet….I will definitely be trying the recipe out when I get back to the Chestnut Barn….Thank you..

    1. Thank you Michelle! It was an experiment, partly inspired by you and know has become one of my favourite recipes. Glad to hear you will give it a go and thanks for your lovely comment. Great to have the testimony of someone who has eaten it here 🙂

  3. Beautiful tart, beautiful photos, beautiful zucchini flowers. They can be so hard to find in Edinburgh, and are so expensive when we do, I treasure them! This is a great way to celebrate their loveliness… Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much for the compliments. Zucchini flowers are so precious even when you have a lot and so tasty. Wishing I could send you some of mine!

  4. This looks so good but mannaggia it’s almost impossible to get 8 fiori di zucca at once in my garden. I will have to try your recipe next month when I am in Puglia and have access to LOTS of them!

    1. Sounds like a good idea. They grow so fast here that I can’t keep up with them. In Puglia it must be crazy!

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