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Rabbit with Zucchini Blossoms Recipe - Coniglio Sanremese con Fiori di Zucca

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This is a summer dish. While rabbit is available all year round, zucchino flowers only come to market in the early summer, and (alas) vanish by mid September. The flowers grow on the tips of what will become the zucchini, and are good only when picked either before the zucchino grows or when it is quite small. Here, the fried zucchini blossoms will contrast beautifully with the rabbit stewed with olives.
Prep Time: 0 hour, 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

•1 rabbit

•3/4 cup (100 g) black olives packed in brine, ideally Ligurian

•A small onion, finely sliced

•A rib celery, about 4 inches (10 cm) long, minced

•The needles from a sprig of rosemary, chopped

•A bay leaf, crumbled

•A sprig of thyme, chopped

•5-6 walnut meats, ground

•1/2 cup (125 ml) excellent red wine

•One dozen zucchino blossoms

•An egg

•1 cup (110 g) flour

•1/2 cup beer

•Olive oil

•Salt and pepper to taste

•Oil for deep fat frying

When you buy the rabbit, have the butcher sever its head, split it, and give it to you separately, along with its liver. Come time to prepare the dish, wash and pat dry the rabbit, and cut it into pieces.

Pour 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a terracotta casserole, and sauté the onion and celery with the herbs. When the onion has browned lightly, add the rabbit and cook over a brisk flame. When the meat has browned, stir in the nutmeats and the wine, and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, boil the rabbit head and liver (after carefully removing the gall bladder) in lightly salted water for about 20 minutes. Once the meat has boiled, pick all the flesh from the head of the rabbit (reserve the broth), grind it with the liver, and stir the paste into the casserole with the rabbit.

Continue simmering the rabbit for another hour, adding rabbit broth to it as necessary to keep it from drying out; keep in mind that the sauce should be abundant and fairly thick.

When the rabbit is half done, drain the olives and stir them in.

Meanwhile, make a batter with the egg, flour, beer, and a pinch of salt. Carefully wash the zucchino blossoms and pat them dry, then dip them in the batter and fry them in hot oil until they are golden brown.

Serve the rabbit with its sauce, and the fried blossoms on the side. A wine? Liguria is not known for reds, so I would go with a white: Either a Vermentino di Ponente, or a Vermentino dei Colli di Luni, or a Pigato from Albenga.

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