Healthy – light lunch with stuffed zucchini flowers, salmon, and yogurt panna cotta

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Zucchini flowers appeared in stores last mounth. I wish that certain foods were available all year round, and they are one of them. Unfortunately, they are only available for a short period of time, so I try to eat them often and prepare them different ways.

For this menu I stuffed zucchini flowers with ricotta cheese and little bit of toasted pine nuts. You can also dip them in flour and egg and deep-fry, or chop them, saute with onions and use in quesadillas. I think they are a great appetizer or snack.

The flowers are very delicate so you have to work carefully. Most of the time they come squeezed in a plastic package so you need a little patience when handling them.

For the main course I made salmon en-papilotte (baked in parchment paper) with layers of vegetables, and for a dessert, a light and easy to make yogurt panna cotta. I placed the panna cotta into a half-sphere metal moulds, but you can use any moulds you want.

Staffed zucchini flowers

serves 4

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  • 8 zucchini/courgette flowers
  •  140g ricotta cheese/ about 8 tablespoons
  • one teaspoon toasted pine nuts
  • two lemons
  • 2 eggs, separated
  •  1/4 cup – 30g, flour
  • salt
  • oil for frying

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In a small skillet lightly toast pie nuts.

Mix ricotta until soft. Add toasted pine nuts and salt to taste.

Squeeze little bit of lemon juice.

Fill the piping bag with a mixture.

Remove the  green leafy bits from the base of the flower (sepals).

Rinse quickly and shake the excess water.

Carefully separate the leafs and using piping bag fill each flower with about a tablespoon of ricotta mixture.

Close leafs and lightly twist so that ricotta doesn’t come out when frying.

Heat two tablespoons of oil.

Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Gradually add yolks to egg whites beating all the time.

Dust each stuffed zucchini flower with the flour, then dip in beaten egg mixture.

Carefully lower each flower into the hot oil.

Reduce the heat and fry about one minute per side or until golden.

Drain on paper towels.

Divide courgette flowers between plates and serve immediately with a slice of lemon.

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Salmon en papilote with potato, mushrooms and spinach

Serves 4

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  • 500g salmon fillet, pinboned and skinned, cut in four even slices
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 120g spinach, cleaned and cut the stalks
  • 200g mushrooms, lightly cleaned with wet kitchen towel and cut into slices
  • lemon, slices
  • oil for frying
  • salt

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Pre-heat the oven to 180C /350F.

Put the potato slices in a bowl. Cover them in oil and season. Mix well.

Spread potato on lightly oiled roasting tin, then put in the oven and roast until golden, about 25 minutes.

Keep them warm.

Adjust the oven to 220C /425F.

Cut out 4 heart shapes from greaseproof  paper, big enough to enclose the fish plus a border.

Place the fish on one side of each paper heart, lightly oil and season. Place on top slices of lemon.

Fold the other half of the paper over the top, and pleat the edges tightly to seal, twisting the end.

Put on the baking sheet and place in the oven on medium shelf for 10 minutes.

In a mean time prepare the spinach and mushrooms.

In a small pot heat one and a half tablespoon of oil.

Add the mushrooms, reduce a heat and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until soft.

In a big skillet heat little bit of batter then saute the spinach. Squeeze before serving.

Place a pastry cutter (or a mould) about 71/2 cm wide and 3cm height.

Firs place the layer of potatoes in the cutter, then layer of mushrooms. Add some of the spinach and finish with piece of salmon.

Repeat with the rest.

Panna cotta with berries sauce

serves 4

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  •  175ml / 3/4 cup whipping cream or double cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 3 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 (3g) sheet of gelatin
  • 250g / 1 cup full fat yogurt
  • 250g / 2 cups berries
  • 85 g  granulated sugar / 1/3 cup
  • 80ml sweet wine / 1/3 cup

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Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and with a knife scrape the seeds.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to scalding point (when cream starts to steam and when small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan over low heat).

Remove the pot from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes for flavors to infuse.

Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for five minutes, until they have softened.

Sieve the cream mixture then add the softened gelatin and mix until completely dissolved.

Pour in the yogurt and mix well.

Divide the mixture into the metal half-sphere moulds.

Put into the refrigerator overnight.

To prepare the sauce put the berries, sugar and wine in a small pan.

Simmer gently, stirring carefully until the sugar dissolves and fruit softens, for about 10-15 minutes.

Cool.

To unmould the panna cotta dip the mould in hot water. Put them gently onto individual plates, and serve with the sauce.

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