Zucchini Flowers and Shrimp
Visiting the Aeolian Islands just north of Sicily was planned after our tickets for last years Summer vacation had been bought so I knew when I landed in Rome at 8 a.m, a 6-7 hour car ride was ahead of me. We needed to catch a ferry to Sicily drive a bit then get another ferry to Lipari, our home base island for our week-long sojourn. Some unusual traffic incidents slowed us down but also gave me the inspiration for a recent dinner. The first was a truck that had caught fire in one of the long tunnels that run through the mountains along the Italian coastline and required us to turn around, find our way over a mountain on a very windy road to get to another highway that would get us to the port. It was about 8 p.m. and we were going on 12 hours in the car but weren’t worried yet since the last ferry was as 1 a.m. Then we found a truck stalled in a narrow road running through the town only 5 miles from our destination. So there we sat, our stomachs beginning to growl and our patience running a little thin. After a couple more hours, the truck finally moved allowing us to move on. On our way out of town we were thrilled to see a pizzeria, one of the only shops with the lights still on. We parked our rental car close by for fear it, and our suitcases, might be stolen (remember where we were). I think karma was at play because the family, who ran the place, was just sitting down for their dinner jumped up to welcome us. Francesco and Sarah ordered grilled sausages and salad with those amazing french fries made only the way you get them in Italy or Spain cooked in olive oil, but I saw something on the menu that peaked my interest. Pasta with zucchini flowers and shrimp. Bingo. And this place was billed as a pizzeria, how lucky were we? I don’t know if it was because I’d left Chicago some 20 hours earlier and hadn’t eaten much beyond a foamy cappuccino and a brioche at the airport or that it was vacation and I was back in Italy so was able to assume the Italian mentality and not get too worked up with the inconveniences we’d run into that day but this was the perfect first meal for what was going to be an incredible vacation. I wasn’t blogging then otherwise I would have thought to whip my camera out to record that dish but I think I came pretty close tonight to capturing it just without the pasta.
Zucchini flowers, zucchini and shrimp
While we were lined up to board the ferry to Lipari, this guy was selling zucchini
flowers, figs and other super fresh produce.
Zucchini flowers in various stages of development from a neighbor’s garden
Perfect flower for this dish
for two people you’ll need:
1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, tail off and de-veined
2 small zucchini
6-8 zucchini flowers
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, minced
3 Tbsp. white wine
Gently rinse any dirt off the zucchini flowers under cold running water and lay on a paper towel to dry. Cut it into pieces using mostly the orangey flower and discard the light green ends. Set aside. Cut ends off zucchini and slice lengthwise into quarters then into small pieces. Heat olive oil in skillet and add scallions and zucchini. Stir and cover to cook for a few minutes. Uncover, stir and add wine, chopped flowers and shrimp. Cover again and cook for until shrimp is no longer translucent and cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
I think this would be great as a risotto or as I had it tossed with pasta. Serve with a well chilled pinot grigio.