(Fiori di Zucca Ripieni)
Of all the aspects of Tuscan cuisine, not one stands out as much as its overwhelming variety of fresh vegetables. Zucchini is a favorite, of course, and so are the blossoms. The sweet, succulent flowers are prepared in countless ways, including fried, sautéed and, as in the following recipe, stuffed and baked. If you don’t have zucchini in your garden, look for the blossoms in the supermarket or at a farmers’ market. They are usually sold still attached to baby zucchini, which is how they are used in this recipe.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 15x10x2-inch oval baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil. Heat 5 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and thyme and stir until breadcrumbs are lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in tomatoes, cheese, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper.
Fill zucchini blossoms with breadcrumb mixture, using about 2 teaspoons for small blossoms and 1 tablespoon for large blossoms (be careful not to tear blossoms). Sprinkle any remaining breadcrumb mixture over baking dish. Place zucchini atop breadcrumbs in dish. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil over. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)
Bake until zucchini are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.