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Zucchini Variations

Appetizer or main course? When it comes to vegetables, we think about them as appetizers, and – more often – as side dishes.

I had a bunch of zucchini romanesche at home (with their flowers) and before I was off for vacations, I had to make use of them.  Since I usually prepare zucchini with pasta or simply as a side dish, I wanted to come up with a main course (with zucchini as “main” ingredient). I thought it was a good idea because zucchinis are fresh and in season, and a meat course would have been heavy with the high temperatures we got in Rome.

In this recipe called “Zucchini Variations”, I used about 3 zucchinis per serving of about 130 gr and 15 cm each. If you are thinking that 450 grams of zucchinis for a main course is too much, what about those 500 gr of red meat we eat when we decide to go for a serious steak? Don’t get me wrong, I love meat, but zucchinis can also be a satisfying alternative as a main course.

The following 3 recipes – plated into one dish – were made using three zucchinis, so the serving size is 1.

This can also be a bountiful, delicious appetizer. You choose!!!

Zucchini cream with marinated red onions and concassé tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 small ripe plum tomato
  • 4-6 tablespoons of buttermilk
  • 2 slices of red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of grated Pecorino cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • some basil leaves
  • about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Method

  1. Dice zucchini and add salt. In a skillet heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat and lightly brown zucchini. Let it cool.
  2. Using a hand mixer, blend cooked zucchini with buttermilk, Pecorino cheese, olive oil, some basil leaves. Blend it until you get a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Meanwhile marinate red onions in lemon juice for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To prepare concassé tomatoes, cut an X in the bottom of the tomato and place it in boiling water for 30 seconds. Place tomato into water and ice bowl to stop the heating process. Peel tomato and dice it finely. Add some olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Here is a link on how to prepare concassé tomatoes with step by step pictures.

Plating

Using a small jar or glass, pour zucchini cream, place marinated red onion slices on top and finish it with the diced concassé tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and place a large basil leave for garnish.

Zucchini rolls with ricotta, pine nuts, chives and cinnamon filling

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini
  • 2-3 zucchini flowers
  • 4 -5 tablespoons of fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of pine nuts
  • Some chives and 4 more for garnish
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cut off the ends of the zucchini. Slice very thinly lengthwise. If you have mandolin, use it to cut the slices. Discard (or use it for another recipe) the first and last slice since is the skin. I usually get about 4- 5 slices per zucchini.
  2. Add salt to zucchini strips and let it stand for 30 minutes. This will soften the zucchini strips for an easier rolling.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle mix together the  ricotta, pine nuts, cinnamon, and chives.
  4. After the zucchini have softened place about 1 tablespoon  of the cheese mixture at one end of the strip and roll up. Wrap each roll with a chive an tie.
  5. In a skillet heat extra virgin  olive oil over medium-low heat and add  zucchini flowers cut into petals. Add salt to taste.

Plating

Arrange flower petals onto a dish simulating a flower, and place the rolls filling side up, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with some fresh ground black pepper.

Zucchini alla Scapece with red pepper chunky sauce.

This is a traditional Southern Italian dish that consists of marinating vegetables in vinegar and/0r herbs and spices. Since Southern Italy was under Spanish rule  around the 700s, making vegetables alla scapece (or in Spanish escabeche), is a cooking method Italians inherited under the Spaniards’ ruling.

Ingredients:

  • 1  zucchini
  • fresh mint
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • about 30-40 ml vinegar
  • about 30-40 ml water
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 small red pepper (you are going to have leftovers for further recipes)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method

To prepare zucchini alla scapece

  1. Slice the zucchini, salt them, and fry them in olive oil. Drain the slices using paper towels.
  2. Place the zucchini into a bowl by layering them with fresh ground pepper and mint leaves
  3. Combine vinegar and water, and garlic and place them in a small pot until and bring to a boil. Add one tablespoon of frying oil to this mixture.
  4. Pour the liquids into the zucchini and cover it with plastic wrap.
  5. Chill for 24 hours in the refrigerator, and serve.

To prepare roasted red peppers chunky sauce.

  1. Preheat oven  to 200° C (400 °F) for 15 minutes. Place red peppers and broil for about 30 minutes or until skins are blackened.
  2. Transfer peppers to plastic wrap or bag. Close the bag or seal with plastic wrap, and let peppers steam and cool.
  3. Unwrap peppers. Pull off and discard skins. This step can be done under running water.
  4. Cut peppers into strips and the dice them.
  5. Add mint, sugar and extra virgin olive oil and combine.

Plating

Using an expresso coffee cup or another small cup, cover the inside with plastic wrap and place zucchinis that previoulsy have been drained form all liquids. Press the mixture with a spoon to firm it up and place the zucchini cup upside down into a plate and gently pull the cup and plastic wrap up. Using a serving spoon (I used a ceramic one), place red pepper sauce besides the zucchini.

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147 Comments Post a comment
  1. A beautiful and imaginative trio!

    August 11, 2012
  2. Gorgeous photos!

    August 11, 2012
  3. Amazing plating!

    August 11, 2012
  4. This is such a beautiful main course, Ambrosiana. I would be stunned to sit at a friend’s table and have this plate set before me. The zucchini rolls set atop the blossoms are really quite special, a feast for both eyes and palate.

    August 11, 2012
    • What a nice complimet John..Thanks!! Indeed, using the blossoms add that special touch!

      August 13, 2012
  5. Nice to read your stuff again, Giselle. Interesting to hear about the “escabeche” link, You’ve made a wonderful savoury course based on a cafe gourmand. Such a cool idea. Enjoy your holiday.

    August 11, 2012
  6. These are works of art – wonderful photos and delicious flavours! We eat vegetables, especially peppers, escabeche here too. I didn’t know the Italian version – thanks for a new word, for me!

    August 11, 2012
    • Thank you!! It is interesting to find out that this escabeche method is aldo used in France!!

      August 13, 2012
      • Yes, I always thought it was a Catalan dish which was why we had it here!

        August 13, 2012
  7. Wow honey. This is such a startling post. Brilliant. I am entranced by this zuchinni cream, i will try this one.. wonderful work.. you are an artist.. celi

    August 12, 2012
    • Thank you Celi!! I suggest you to try the cream out. Buttermilk makes it even richer!!

      August 13, 2012
  8. Absolutely beautiful! Love these recipes, especially the scapece and red pepper sauce. lovely blog, I’ll be back 🙂

    August 12, 2012
    • Thank you Karista!! I am glad you stopped by!! I’ll check your blog out too!

      August 13, 2012
  9. What a work of art! A lovely presentation and WOW factor! Each one sounds so delicious and perfectly balanced. I’m looking forward to trying each one of these out!

    August 12, 2012
  10. Jan Rörschåch #

    Superb food styling. Well done.

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you for your nice compliment!! I think summer colors help in food styling too!

      August 13, 2012
  11. Beautiful photos. When summer draws to a close I am always on the hunt for inventive and beautiful ways to use the plethora of zucchini from our garden. Your recipes will definitely go on the list.

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you! I am gald my blog was helpful in ideas of how to use your zucchini!!

      August 13, 2012
  12. A very interesting variation to zuchinni….ideas I have never tried myself before. Thank you for sharing!

    August 13, 2012
    • You’re welcome!! I am glad you liked them!!

      August 13, 2012
  13. holdincornfield #

    How uniquely yummy!

    August 13, 2012
  14. My mouth is watering! I’ve been using the same zucchini recipe lately and with the abundance of zucchinis around here, seeing your recipes makes me excited to cook something new! Beautiful presentation!

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you! I find vegetablas – in this case zucchini – the most versatile ingredient there is!!!

      August 13, 2012
      • Agreed! I’ve been using zucchinis sliced thin to act like noodles and that’s been a lot of tasty fun. 🙂

        August 14, 2012
      • Wow! That is such a good idea and healthier option to pasta, specially if you are cutting down on carbs!

        August 14, 2012
  15. Beautiful post! You’ve made the common zucchini into a beautiful work of art. I love zucchini but have never had it any of these ways. I am really interested to try the zucchini cream..Looks delicious! Thanks for the recipes!

    August 13, 2012
    • You are welcome!! Thank you for your nice comment!! Indeed, with the simplicity of zucchini, one cna come up with endless ideas for cooking!

      August 13, 2012
  16. this looks absolutely delicious!!
    http://www.tipinterior.wordpress.com

    xx
    cheers

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you very much!! I am glad you liked it!

      August 13, 2012
  17. Loved it. I’ll definately be cooking more zucchini now…mmm. Wonderful!

    August 13, 2012
  18. YUMMY! i love zucchini and always run out of ways to use it! my mom made me zucchini spaghetti last week but this is above and beyond! love it!!
    if you can do you mind stopping by my blog, its really new and id love your feedback 🙂 just posted a healthy mug brownie recipe btw 🙂
    Thanks so much and great posts!

    August 13, 2012
    • Oh!!! I love zucchini with spaghetti (typical dish of Southern Italy) and I usually make it at home!! My husband loves it!!!

      August 13, 2012
  19. Beautiful presentation! YUM! 🙂

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you cery much and thanks for stopping by!!

      August 13, 2012
  20. GG #

    The food are really special. I am learning too.

    Your photos are really beautiful.

    August 13, 2012
  21. Just added zucchini to my grocery list, thanks!

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you!!! Don’t forget the blossoms :)!

      August 13, 2012
  22. Looks Great! A little Hot Sauce and it would be perfect!

    August 13, 2012
    • Good idea!!! I’ll give it a try!!! Thanks!

      August 13, 2012
  23. YUM

    August 13, 2012
  24. Great blog. Wonderful plating. Very creative. Definitely want to try these out!

    August 13, 2012
  25. Reblogged this on Tilemasterandme.

    August 13, 2012
  26. What a beautiful display. Loved it.

    August 13, 2012
  27. isayorganic #

    Reblogged this on I Say Organic and commented:
    Wondering what you can do with zucchini? This amazing blogpost offers lots of idea!

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you for rebbloging it!!!..I’ll check your blog out!!

      August 13, 2012
  28. isayorganic #

    the recipes look amazing, can’t wait to try them!

    August 13, 2012
  29. wow what an amazing plate of food! So visual and it all looks delicious. Great what you can do with one simple vegetable 🙂

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you!! You said it!! The simpler the ingredient, the more creative one gets!!!

      August 13, 2012
  30. I love the recipes and the photographs are stunning!
    Congratulations on making it to freshly pressed, well deserved.
    Kind thoughts
    Kate

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you Kate!!! That is very kind of you! It is so amazing and I never ever thought I’d make it to Freshly Pressed! Thanks for stopping by!

      August 13, 2012
  31. Uma #

    oooh!! nom nom nom… looks yummy!

    August 13, 2012
  32. zucchini recipe is one of the taste I enjoyed very well. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you for the compliment and for stopping by!

      August 13, 2012
  33. yourothermotherhere #

    You are right – it sounds filling without being too heavy. I think I’ll even give ricotta a try again. I don’t care for it in cannoli or lasagna, but those zucchini rolls look like they are worth the risk!

    August 13, 2012
    • Even though Ricotta cheese is a light cheese, in lasagna or cannoli cn be overwelming. Adding it to zucchini is a lighter as tastier alternative!!

      August 13, 2012
      • yourothermotherhere #

        I was the only person at our house that didn’t like cannoli and they thought I was weird, but I didn’t like the candied fruit in it either. But I will try it with the zucchini. Who knows? I’m older now and that picture sure made it all look so good!

        August 14, 2012
      • Cannoli is a very sweet dessert, and that sometimes can be overwhelming, so thre nothing wrong to not like them! Personally I don,t like candied fruit either! If you ever try this recipe with zucchini, let me know! That sounds interesting!

        August 14, 2012
  34. Wow, stunning photos!

    August 13, 2012
  35. fashionloveaffair1 #

    amazing work! Truly works of art I have never seen before! Thank you for sharing

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you for your beautiful compliments!! I really appreciate them!

      August 13, 2012
  36. Zucchini is growing rampant in New England US this year and well every year and it’s probably one of the harvests that people given away because they run out of ways to use it. These are gorgeous, and I will repost the blog on my blog though I fear it means no one will give me their zucchini any more…oh the things I do for my blog! Thanks for this great article!

    August 13, 2012
    • I am glad you came up with this comment!! It may sound weird but some great produce gets thrown down the drain because people do not know how to make the most of it. I find zucchini one of the most versatile ingredients for cooking. I learned this in Italy, where people eat a lot of vegetables since it is part of their wise Mediterranean diet! Thanks for rebbloging!!!

      August 13, 2012
  37. Reblogged this on Brain4rent's Blog and commented:
    Stop – before giving away that zucchini you’ve grown but think you’ll never eat…check out these amazing recipes

    August 13, 2012
  38. It looks all really yummy and well presented!

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you! I am glad you appreciated the plating!

      August 13, 2012
  39. Lovely ideas! And beautiful too!

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you! I hope these are inspiring for you!

      August 13, 2012
  40. YUM YUM….

    August 13, 2012
  41. amazing! Thanks for sharing. Have you ever tried to fry the flowers or to fill them in with mozzarella cheese and anchovys (some people use ham instead of fish – I rather prefer it too)

    August 13, 2012
    • Hi! Fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella cheese are very common in Roman pizzerias. I love them but I have never tried them! Maybe my next recipe?

      August 13, 2012
  42. ooooh man. i am so happy this exists. i am obsessed with zucchini!!! literally obsessed. i made zucchini tots (bite sized savoury muffin looking things made with zucchini breadcrumbs and cheese) as well as zucchini boats (scooped out zucchini halves filled with ground chicken, marinara and cheese). (i also clearly have an affinity for cheese) – i will definitely be making those zucchini/ricotta delicious looking roll type things omg i am so excited haah! thanks for sharing! x

    August 13, 2012
    • Wow! You are really zucchini-minded! Your recipes sound great and I am very happy you really enjoyed my post!

      August 13, 2012
  43. Wonderful recipes! We love zucchine and grow them so we have plenty of both the zucchini and the flowers!!

    August 13, 2012
    • You are so lucky you grow our own! I am glad you liked my recipes! Thanks!

      August 13, 2012
  44. Etol Bagam #

    Love Zuchinni, and your dished look gorgeous and tasty. Wil try them for sure!

    August 13, 2012
  45. Everything looks delicious! If only I could have dairy products, but you have inspired me to try thinking out of the box for dinner ideas:)

    August 13, 2012
    • Hi! If you cannot eat dairy products, you can use soy products such as tofu. You can also replace cheese with white beans such as Cannellini beans!

      August 13, 2012
      • Wow! Thanks. Will definitely have to try that. All of your food looks so great and I want to try these recipes on my family.

        August 14, 2012
      • You are welcome! Contact me if you have doubts or need clarifications regarding my recipes.

        August 14, 2012
      • I will! Thanks a bunch:)

        August 15, 2012
  46. Too beautiful to eat. I have such wonderful memories of the fiori di zucca when we traveled to Rome in the summer!

    August 13, 2012
    • That was exact the same comment my husband made when he was about to it them! Fiori di zucca are very typical of Roman cuisine and I love them too!

      August 13, 2012
  47. I love your photography, your food presentation is fantastic, and the recipes sound great too. What a winning post.

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you for all the beautiful compliments! You a very kind!

      August 13, 2012
  48. Carlie Chew #

    All three recipes look delicious! The photographs are beautiful as well.

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you very much! And thanks for stoping by!

      August 13, 2012
  49. Absolutely lovely to look at and I’m sure that all three taste delicious. It would be hard to decide which to taste first. I’m having problems with your posts showing up on the reader. I’m going to refollow to see if that helps.

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you Karen! I am g,ad you liked them! I am sorry to hear that your are having problems seeing my posts! I hope you work this tech thing out!

      August 13, 2012
  50. I will have to pass these recipes over to my wife. She loves trying different stuff in the kitchen. Like you sometimes we prepare vegetables as a side dish or as a main course. While meat is all good, there are times when you need to give it a break.
    Great Post.

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you! I agree with you! I love meat but sometimes you need to try out different things out! Ipgoing vegetarian sometimes does not harm at all!

      August 13, 2012
  51. mdprincing #

    going to try some tonight, also heard of a really good soup that I am waiting on the recipe for

    August 13, 2012
    • Good! Let me know how it goes!

      August 13, 2012
      • mdprincing #

        good stuff! still waiting for the soup recipe, if it is good I will share with you

        August 18, 2012
  52. Wow delicious! Zucchini is such a refreshing vegetable and you made so many lovely variations on it.

    August 13, 2012
    • Thank you! This is the time to profit from zucchini since it is a delicious seasonal product!

      August 13, 2012
  53. uravnrep #

    It looks so delicious!

    August 13, 2012
  54. cathynd95 #

    YUM! And I picked up zucchini from the farmers market this weekend! Just need to pick up some riccotta and I am set!

    August 13, 2012
    • Hi there! I am glad you are trying my recipe out! Thanks for stoping by!

      August 14, 2012
  55. Reblogged this on What's For Dinner? and commented:
    New ways to use zucchini!!

    August 13, 2012
  56. Gorgeous plate of food. I love the colour of your zucchini flowers. My flowers always grew much paler. Every now and then I too like to make artwork out of my food with wild colours and composition. We eat with our eyes. Oh and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    August 14, 2012
    • Hi there! Thank you for your kind comments! I think that food enters through our eyes so if you plate it and make it colorful, you will amuse whoever eats your food. It is also important to use simple high quality fresh ingredients – the key to a great dish. Also, Great food does not have to be expensive: with some seasonal veggies, fresh cheese (you may want to use fresh local cheese I stead of ricotta), and some herbs, you can create an array of wonderful dishes – at a low cost!

      August 14, 2012
  57. deckre #

    it looks really good 🙂

    August 14, 2012
  58. I am pleased to tell you that you have been nominated by little old me for the Lovely Blog Award. You can pick up your Award and see the rules for the Award at http://joyoftraveling.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/touched-honoured-one-lovely-blog-award/ . Congratulations!!

    August 14, 2012
    • Thank you! I am truly honored! I am definitely going to mention it on my next post!

      August 14, 2012
      • Thanks for all the lovely foodie thoughts Ambrosiana- you inspire many recipes of mine! 🙂

        August 15, 2012
  59. I’m so impressed with the photos and would love to taste the zucchini! Lovely food.

    August 15, 2012
    • Thank you for your nice compliments!i am glad you liked my recipes!

      August 15, 2012
  60. Great dish! It looks so appetising that I feel like zucchini right now.

    August 16, 2012
    • Than k you! I am glad to have inspired you to have zucchini

      August 18, 2012
  61. vraiment très belle réalisation et variation sur la courgette !

    August 17, 2012
  62. Interesting!

    August 18, 2012
  63. I can’t even decide which one I like more, they are all amazing and the plating is something you would get at a 5 star restaurant
    Congratulations on being freshly pressed 🙂

    August 18, 2012
    • Thank you, thank you, thank you Sawsan! Coming from you it is a great compliment!

      August 18, 2012
  64. Agi's Farmhouse Kitchen #

    Beautiful, pictures and recipes! I love the idea of the zucchini cream.
    You have a beautiful blog too!

    August 30, 2012
    • Thank you very much! And thanks for stopping by!

      August 30, 2012
  65. Are you kidding me!? This is absolutely out of this world! It’s not all that often that prepared food can take my breath away, but Ambrosiana, you’ve just done that very thing! Really exquisite…recipe, plating, photography.

    August 31, 2012
    • Wow spree! You are so kind and very sweet! Thank you for this lovely comment!

      September 4, 2012
  66. Talitha #

    Reblogged this on Hi From Down Under.

    September 2, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Tales of Ambrosia (recipe blog) « Live, Laugh, Love
  2. Walking on sunshine « Wordsmatter
  3. Today is Not Zucchini Day, I’m a Lazy Blogger | Naimeless
  4. Italian Zucchini | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen
  5. Asian Zucchini Salad « jittery cook

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