Zucchini flowers stuffed with rice and herbs

The zucchinis in our garden are just starting and early in the morning, while the flowers are open I picked four baby zucchinis with their flowers attached. I then stuffed them with rice and baked them. To make the dish a bit larger, I also stuffed some onions and baked some butter beans. You can also stuff the male flowers (they are a bit smaller and do not have a zucchini attached).

This recipe is just for zucchini flowers, though you can use the same rice mix for other vegetables.

Zucchini flowers stuffed with rice and herbs
12 zucchini flowers (female with baby zucchini attached or male)
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 cup short grain rice, washed
1 small onion, grated
½ cup finely chopped parsley
¼ cup finely chopped mint
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp sugar
½ cup of water

Heat oven to 180C.
Make a small cross at the top of each tomato and immerse in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and peel off skin. Chop into large pieces using a small blender, pulse to make fresh tomato puree. Add the sugar and stir.
To prepare zucchini flowers, remove the inside of the flower and check for any insects (you should not need to wash them as the water might soften the flowers).
In a bowl, add the rice, grated onion, parsley, mint, ½ the olive oil and 1/3 of the tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Fill each flower ¾ full with the rice mixture and gently twist the top of the petals to keep rice inside. Arrange in a baking dish.
In a small bowl add the remaining tomato puree and extra olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour this over the zucchinis and add the water. Cover with foil, bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and bake for a further 15 minutes or until browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The rice, herb and tomato stuffing mix needs to be quite wet to help the rice cook.

The tomato puree to pour on the stuffed vegetables before baking. Don't be shy with the extra virgin olive oil, it make all the difference to the final dish!

The flowers are only 3/4 full of rice as it will expand while it cooks.

The finished dish. A green salad, some feta cheese and crusty bread completed the lunch. There was nothing left...