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Zucchini Flowers with Peas, Tomato, Basil and Saffron Parpadelle

A Ridiculously simple pasta dish, celebrating the zucchini flowers with the invigorating sharpness of saffron, the sweet tomato flesh and earthy fresh peas….

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I found the flowers at my local market and was inspired by the enthusiasm of the stall holder, whose love for his produce shone clear through his recipe concoctions. I have stuffed these before with basil and ricotta but felt like keeping it simple this time (even though my head was spinning with all these recipes to now consider).

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If you’re into making pasta, add saffron and transform the dough into something spectacular. The only other participants in this recipe are a few tomatoes, fresh peas, olive oil (as always) and fresh basil. I’ve always been intrigued with saffron, how it grows and how just a few threads can transform a dish – golden locks of pasta entwining around the other ingredients like the hair of Repunzel.

Don’t worry about necessarily using parpadelle, tagliatelle or other pasta would also work well in this dish. I happened to find fresh pasta in this particular shape, which is why I went with it. You could also use dried saffron pasta, whatever you fancy really.

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Ingredients – Serves 4

  • 400g saffron pasta
  • 16 zucchini (courgette) flowers
  • 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • Fresh peas…about 2 handfuls
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Bunch of basil, roughly chopped
  • Grated parmesan/pecorino to serve

Method

Remove and discard the stigma from each zucchini flower. I use scissors, delicately opening the tops and cutting them at an angle-so not to rip the flower.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta – cooking for as long as it requires to be al dente. My fresh pasta was very thick, so required about 8 minutes.

Place oil in a frying pan, heat and add the flowers, peas and diced tomato. Simmer for about 3 minutes then season with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta, add to the pan with the flowers and tomato and add the chopped basil. Toss to combine.

Serve scattered with fresh parmesan, if your taste buds fancy!

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4 replies »

  1. Katie I will be publishing on my blog how to make them in a bit different way, I was just about to do this :-) I’ve learnt how to prepare these flowers in Italy, on the North, and since then it’s almost my comfort food in the summer time, when you can still buy them. I love these pictures!

  2. Excellent, I’ll look forward to seeing how you cook them as I’m still playing with them and learning. I love to fry them until the flowers crisp up – delicious. The man I got them from said they are very good filled with roasted pepper puree and basil…something else to experiment with. Lovely blog, by the way!

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