Preparing the blossoms:
Open each blossom individually and cut out the hard red starfish-shaped part of the interior (this step is optional, but recommended).
Trim the outside of base where it connects with the squash.
Rinse the blossoms in cold water carefully to avoid tearing, and leave them to drip dry.
For the filling:
In a broad pan heat 200 ml of the olive oil on a medium-low heat. You need a lot of oil, as the ingredients will be poached like a confit, rather than fried.
We will be adding more oil later – this is a dish heavy in oil. Add the onion and cook it slowly in the oil for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently until softened.
Add the wine and continue poaching for 2-3 minutes.
Add the grated courgette and continue cooking, stirring regularly for about 5 minutes. Even though most of the water will have drained out, they will release a bit of liquid now, which will add flavor to the filling.
Add the chopped flowers and another 50 ml of olive oil and stir. The mixture will be moist and fragrant. Continue to cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
As the mixture starts to thicken in the next 3-4 minutes it will become more noisy.
This is the right moment to take it off the heat to avoid drying out. Add the rice, and stir until the grains are covered and glossy. The rice is in the filling to add body, but will not contribute anything to the flavor. This is why we need intense flavors, aromas and plenty of liquid.
Add another 70 ml of olive oil, all the herbs, the lemon juice (personally I use 2 lemons because I like plenty), and generous quantities of salt and pepper, and stir gently for 2-3 minutes.
I leave the filling to cool down to room temperature, stirring occasionally. This will allow the herbs to gently release their flavorful juices and give the filling flavor.
Stuffing the blossoms:
The filling will expand with cooking and could rip the delicate blossoms, so use small quantities. 1 tsp for the smaller flowers, 2 tsp for larger ones.
Hold each flower upright in the palm of one hand and with the other open up the petals carefully. Put the filling at the base of the flower where it is round and plump, leaving the top half where the flower narrows empty.
Gently twist the petals to resemble a purse, and prop the flower upright in a large baking dish, with the twisted petals pointing up like a quaff. They should be packed tightly to avoid shifting and opening during cooking.
Once the dish is full, pour the warm stock and the rest of the olive oil over the flowers and cover the tray tightly. Cook at 130 C for 1 1/2 hour.
Remove from the oven and leave to rest covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and leave for another 30 minutes.
There will be about 1 finger of liquor at the bottom of the baking dish, quite oily and very tasty. This can be eaten as is or mixed with yoghurt once it has cooled a bit to make a sauce. I prefer to use the liquor on its own, adding a dollop of yoghurt on the side for a cool taste in the mouth.
This recipe was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.
40 fresh whole squash blossoms (zucchini flowers) + 15 finely chopped
400 gr onions, finely chopped
200 ml dry white wine
300 gr squash (zucchini), coarsely grated and wrung by hand
200 gr short-grain rice
Leaves of 2 bunches mint, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
Juice of 1-2 lemons
300 ml warm homemade vegetable stock or water
370 ml olive oil
Salt, freshly ground pepper