What’s good my friends?!  I hope everyone had a fun 4th of July weekend who celebrated.  I was able to take a few days off to relax and recharge, including spending some time in the garden setting up a new cinder block bed (cheapest way to build a garden bed and grow food for ~$1.75/block), harvesting a few foods and catching up on some reading & sunshine.  Very relaxing overall.  It feels good to unplug from the day to day when we all have busy schedules.  Your body is not a machine and your sympathetic nervous system, hormonal systems and other body systems will thank you if you can incorporate mini “breaks” into your life… and I’ll add, having your own garden is a great way to unplug with nature anytime you please (and you get free food!). 

Part of the harvest this past weekend was a bunch of beautiful zucchini flowers.  The zucchinis have been quite abundant this summer; all plants grown from seeds I saved from previous fruits (i.e. cost = free, a great way to save money on organically grown foods). I’ve probably harvested at least 30 zucchinis from 6 plants this year and they’re still going strong. 

This particular garden haul I was able to pull about 20 flowers, so in the spirit of making local-organic-sustainable food based on what’s in-season and growing, I put together this stuffed zucchini flower dish.

This dish is actually a 2-in-1 recipe… the filling turned out great, so if you don’t have zucchini flowers, the filling itself doubles as a healthy homemade dip or spread you can whip up fast! 

This recipe is paleo & vegetarian-friendly, ReBoot-friendly (week 2+), dairy-free, gluten-free and 100% real food ingredient-approved.  The filling/dip itself is vegan-friendly.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers Recipe - Nutrition You Can Trust

Ingredients

20 zucchini flowers (see kitchen notes)

2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours

20 kalamata olives, pitted

8 ounce jar roasted peppers, liquid drained

1 medium lemon, juiced

1 pastured egg (to use as egg wash)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Small pinch of pink salt (olives likely salty)

*links above are brands I personally use and recommend nutrition you can trust

Kitchen Notes

Eating raw:  I personally like the taste of zucchini flowers and will add them raw to salads and such.  That said, you could try this recipe raw if you’d like… my suggestion is after you fill up your first flower, give it a try.  If you like it raw, go for it.  If not, bake-it-to-it as you’ll see in the directions below.

Filling:  you’ll likely have some filling left over so you can even go up to 25-30 flowers if you wanted, or use the leftover as a spread or dip…  or do what I did and simply eat with a spoon! 

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Stuffed Zucchini Flowers Recipe - Nutrition You Can Trust

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Flowers:  carefully get any gunk out of your flowers if there is any. Since I picked from the garden I had to get a few critters out 🙂

3.  Filling:  drain the water from your cashews and add to a blender or food processor with your olives, peppers, lemon juice, garlic powder & black pepper.  Blend all until everything is incorporated well.  Taste it for salt here and add a pinch if you’d like (remember, your olives are probably salty so you may not need it).  Add some more pepper and garlic powder if you desire as well.

4.  Once the filling is done, remove and add to a ziplock bag (see picture below).

5.  Place some parchment paper on a baking sheet, then cut a small hole in the corner of your ziplock bag where you’ll be squeezing the filling out. 

6. Time to fill:  Carefully begin to open each flower and insert the open end corner of your filling into the flower and squeeze some filling out.  Fill it up about 1/2 – 3/4 of the way and gently twist the top of the flower to close off the top.  Add your finished flower to the baking sheet. See picture below of filling / flowers.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers Recipe - Nutrition You Can Trust

7.  Once you’ve filled all your flowers up and they’re arranged evenly on your baking sheet, whisk your one egg in a bowl.  Gently brush each with the egg wash… this will give them that crispy light brown color look.

8.  Place baking sheet in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until a slight crispy brown look (see pictures below).

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers Recipe - Nutrition You Can Trust

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers Recipe - Nutrition You Can Trust

When they’re done remove from the oven and serve warm.  These can be great for an appetizer, added as a side dish to a meal, and remember I mentioned above, if you don’t want to do the flowers, the combination of the raw cashew-roasted red peppers-olives filling itself is great for a fast & healthy dip or spread and takes about a minute to whip up in the blender!

Buon Appetito

PS:  I’m going to be going on a summer vacation so I will see you in a few weeks where we’ll discuss my favorite real food apps (not appetizers, the smart phone/ipad kind 🙂 ) and homemade mojito ice cream!  See you soon.

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