Slow Food at Sea in San Remo
by Anne Elizabeth Jordan, Paris France
San Remo is a cute little coastal village on the northwest coast of Italy. The boat I'm cooking on this summer just happens to be based here. The beautiful Mediterranean sea is shining, the green terraced hills reach into the bright sky with large fluffy afternoon clouds breaking their way over the gentle ridges. I can look out of my galley window and see the sun shining, which is so welcome after a long grey winter in Paris.
Little did I know, until this past week, that the Slow Food movement headquarters are just north of San Remo in Bra (Cueno), Italy. Carlo Petrini actually started campaign in response to fast food in 1986. If you've ever been to Italy, you can see why this would be the home of a movement called 'slow food'. The idea alone is something deeply embedded in the Italian culture. When I think of Italians and food I think of big family meals, prepared with love and eaten over hours of conversation.
The covered market in San Remo is well priced in comparison to those I visit at my home in Paris, and at first sight I thought, "Wow, they have everything!" realizing each stand is hosting seasonally available regional vegetables and fruits - a selection of tomato varieties, eggplant, basil, peaches and berries. It's zucchini season and small varieties with bright orange blossoms still attached are the pride of each stand. This is what I came for, the recipe for a cold soup and stuffed blossoms below.
Fresh zucchini soup and fried blossoms
(local ingredients if possible)
4 zucchini with blossoms attached or purchased separately
1 yellow onion
50g Local salted butter
Local unfiltered extra virgin olive oil to taste
100g Local soft cow cheese (might be hard to find in USA, goat could work as well)
20g Local cream, if possible
Salt and pepper to taste
Milk and flour for frying zucchini blossoms
Regular oil for frying, or olive oil
Cut zucchini into 1" slices and dice onion.
Heat a stock pot over medium heat and add butter to melt, then sauté onion until translucent (do not color).
Add zucchini and sauté for about 5 minutes (again, do not color), afterwards adding just enough water to almost cover.
Bring to boil, then immediately cover pot with plastic wrap or lid, reducing heat to simmer for approximately 45 minutes.
Check that flesh is tender but not falling apart then put into food processor, with half of the cooking liquid (reserve remaining cooking liquid to thin if necessary later).
Once thoroughly blended pass through a strainer to get a more smooth texture.
You can add cream, salt and pepper to taste now.
Place in bowl into refrigerator to cool.
When serving, drizzle with the unfiltered extra virgin olive oil.
Season the cheese with salt and pepper to taste.
The zucchini blossoms can now be filled with the local cheese; only fill halfway.
Dip the blossoms in milk and then gently roll into the flour, being sure to shake off as much as possible (though it's not local, if you have tempura batter it is a great substitute).
In a fry pan, fill with 1" of oil and heat to medium heat.
Make sure oil is not smoking, that means the oil is too hot and you should pull pan off to cool a bit before adding blossom.
Add the blossoms and turn about four times, letting the exterior cook to a gold color.
How you serve this dish is clearly up to your own imagination! If you have some pesto, drizzle this on top...