When summer gives you zucchini flowers...
We're here in San Gusme for a few weeks, so I could not help but pick up some fresh zucchini flowers at the market. In the summer, they are abundant here in Tuscany. I know that it's also possible to find zucchini flowers at most farmer's markets in the the U.S. as well. There are so many things you can do with them...add them to a frittata, stuff them with mozzarella and lightly fry them, or put them on top of a focaccia.
Vincenzo and I were invited to join our friends Lorenzo and Dani for lunch today and so I made the focaccia to bring as our contribution. I started with my base recipe for focaccia, using 00 flour here in Italy as well as the local yeast. I used local olive oil and let the dough rest for a few hours while we were out for a walk.
When we arrived back to our apartment, the dough had doubled in size and was ready to work with.
Zucchini Flower Focaccia
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt (or more to taste)
Fresh rosemary or oregano
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Next place the warm (not too hot) water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast, followed by the sugar. Let this sit for 5-7 minutes (or longer if needed) to allow the yeast to bloom. Add the olive oil to the water, yeast, sugar mixture and then mix into the flour with a spoon. You can also use a mixer with a hook attachment, but I like to keep it simple and stir for 5 minutes with a spoon.
The dough should be a bit wet, so keep adding water if the dough has too much flour. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let sit in a warm place for 2-3 hours.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Next, place the dough in an oiled round or rectangular baking pan (or two, depending on how thin you press it out and your toppings). Form into the shape and size you want with oiled fingers.
Rinse and dry your zucchini flowers well and remove from the stem. Take only the petals of the flower one by one and lay them out on a towel. Next cut small pieces of mozzarella cheese and measure out 2 cups. Here in Italy, I used scamorza cheese, which is a cow's milk cheese that has been aged (dried) slightly so that it has less water.
After you press out the dough, sprinkle the cheese on top and then lay out the zucchini flower petals over the cheese. Next, drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the dough and sprinkle sea salt and chopped fresh rosemary or oregano. I tucked in a jar of the "Love in a Tuscan Kitchen" herb mix from Gardeniare, so this is what I used over the top and it was delicious!
Bake in oven at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until bottom crust is crisp and cheese is golden brown.
This is a beautiful focaccia to present on to others! I think there must be something special in the air here as the dough is always light, airy and full of flavor. This recipe is very easy, so I hope you try it this summer. Enjoy!