Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta and Tuna from Jeff Michaud, EATING ITALY

Listen to the interview.

Before award-winning chef Jeff Michaud ever opened the doors of his acclaimed Philadelphia restaurants, he spent three years in northern Italy as a culinary apprentice to master butchers and chefs, immersing himself in the culture and cuisine of the old country. It is safe to say that he never anticipated the romance that would ensue. Eating Italy is a delicious, funny, and mesmerizing spin through the boot, teaching true heirloom techniques and telling Jeff’s culinary and personal love story (he met his wife when she came into the restaurant one night for dinner, and to this day, he hasn’t forgotten what she ordered).

Part inventive cookbook, part travel narrative, each chapter of Eating Italy explores a village or town in northern Italy, unveiling the unique culinary and cultural experience it has to offer. The reader experiences his journey from “Paladina: The Butcher’s Apprentice” to “Trescore Balneario: Our Big Italian Wedding” in dishes like Apricot and Chanterelle Salad, Swordfish Pancetta with Fennel Zeppole, Pheasant Lasagne, and Blood Orange Crostata with Bitter Chocolate. Each authentic recipe serves to mark his professional growth, learning from some of the most skilled chefs in Italy. Vivid photography of Italian culture, people, and landscapes are dispersed throughout, allowing the reader a glimpse of northern Italia from a kitchen far away.

Eating Italy is a northern Italian cookbook but it is also much more than that.  It is a memoir, a travel book that talks about places to eat, sleep and visit.  It captures a fairytale story (at least Jeff  thinks it does) about falling in love, getting married and opening award winning restaurants.

Directions

"In late spring 2004, I spent more and more of my time off at Claudia’s house in Cene, eating, cooking and getting to know the family. Her mother had an amazing garden filled with zucchini flowers. Those orange and green trumpets bloomed right up until the summer heat started to hit. At some point, Pina started stuffing the blossoms with tuna and ricotta. The filling was a mixture she’d been using for years; she typically breaded and fried it like meatballs. Then she thought, “Why not stuff it into all these zucchini blossoms?” She baked the stuffed zucchini blossoms with little tomatoes from her garden and it became this famous dish in town. Everyone wanted the recipe because it was so easy and so good." Jeff Michaud, EATING ITALY

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Drain the oil from the tuna into a small bowl. Brush any dirt from the zucchini blossoms with a paper towel, but don’t wash the blossoms or they’ll get soggy. Gently twist and pull out the stamens from the centers of the blossoms, using tweezers, if necessary.

Add the tuna, ricotta cheese, and mint to the breadcrumbs, stirring until combined; taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the filling into a resealable plastic bag (the filling can be refrigerated at this point for up to 2 days). Cut off a corner of the bag and pipe the filling into the zucchini blossoms, leaving some room for the blossom to close at the end. Arrange the stuffed blossoms in a 2- quart (2-L) shallow baking dish or on a baking sheet, and top each blossom with tomato half, cut-side down. Arrange the sliced baby zucchini around the edge of the baking dish.

Bake until the filling is set, 12 to 15 minutes. If the tomatoes are still firm, run the dish under the broiler until they wilt a little. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

Recipe reprinted with permission from EATING ITALY © 2013 by Jeff Michaud with David Joachim, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.


Yield: MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

What's Needed:

 

1 (8 ounce/227 g) can Italian tuna in olive oil

12 zucchini blossoms

12 ounces (340 g) fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese (11?2 cups)

2 tablespoons (7 g) chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons (30 ml) plain, dry breadcrumbs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise

4 baby zucchini, sliced

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

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Grilled Chiles Rellenos stuffed with Queso Oaxaca, Mushrooms, and Sweet Potato
"World’s Greatest Chicken Pot Pie" from The Casserole Queens
Homemade Gyros

7 Steps to Sensational Stew
Crispy Orange Beef with Green Rice
Anna Boiardi's Leaving-home Penne Rigate with Broccoli

Budget Friendly Foods
Summer Citrus Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dressing
O as in Organizing: Peanut Butter and Jam Muffins

In Season: Apple Recipes
Gold Star Mini Meatloaf “Cupcakes” with Mashed Potato Icing
Tagliata al Rosmarino (Steak with Rosemary)

Chop-chop Salad
Pinwheel Steak Skewers
Pecan-crusted Catfish with White Cheddar Grits

Corn on the Cob
Grilled Asian Orange Chicken
Open Face Bean, Tuna and Arugula Grilled Sandwich

Porterhouse for Two
Mark Schatzker's Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef
Lemony Grilled Halibut

Chili-rubbed Chicken Summer Salad
Eat Clean Crispy Chicken Bites
Coffee-Pepper Blackened Pork Tenderloin over Spinach

Ham and Grilled Asparagus Salad
Grilled Steak with Vegetable Kabobs and Summer Salad
Grilled Ribeye Steak with Classic Steak Butter

Classic Italian Pasta Salad
Maggie Green's Kentucky Honey–Lime Grilled Salmon
Laurie David's Vietnamese Soup in a Teapot

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
Bluefish with Creamed Corn and Croutons from For Cod and Country by Chef Barton Seaver
Braised Beef Brisket

Spicy Buttermilk Oven- fried Chicken Fingers
Parmesan Crusted Cod with Dilled Carrots
Lemon Angel Hair Pasta from CHRISTINA FERRARE's BIG BOWL OF LOVE

Quick Chicken Mole from You CAN trust a skinny cook
Gold Star Chili Hot Brown Bake
Chicken stuffed Poblanos with Two Cheeses

Cooking a great steak
Spicy Chicken Quesadilla
Asian Flank Steak with Beer Reduction

Linguini alle Vongole (Linguine with Clams)
Antipasto Salad
Trio Bistro's Grouper “California Style”

Chicken and Salsa Tamales
Roast Leg of Lamb with Oven Roasted Potatoes
Glazed Beef Kabobs

Porterhouse for Two with Lemon, Potatoes and Asparagus
Tequila Fajitas
Honey Mustard Chicken Rolls

Turkey Meat Balls with Spinach-Tomato Sauce
Grilled Beef and Vegetable Kabobs
Corned Beef Hash

All American Mini Meatloaf Salad
Bourbon Steak
Stir Frying: Mandarin Shrimp and Vegetables

Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans
Tortilla Lasagna
Beef Tenderloin Stew

Chicken Fricassée
White Bean Soup with Sausage and Spinach
Burger in a Bowl

Pork Cutlets with Three-Mustard Cream Sauce
Chef Rick Bayless' Brava Steak
Beef and Guinness Stew with Potato Herb Dumplings

Salmon and Boursin Baked in Phyllo
Marinade 101
Hyde Park Chili

Manicotti Beef Florentine
Steak au Poivre
Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream Sauce

Seafood Stew
Holiday Sliders
Macadamia Chicken with Mango Butter Sauce

Open-faced Ratatouille Sandwiches with Gruyere
Beer-Batter Shrimp
Chili with Sausage and Beef

Antipasto Toss
Roasted Corned Beef and Cabbage
Beef Wellington

Chinese New Year Tradition: Dumplings and Whole Chicken
Baked Dijon Tilapia with Crumb Crust
Jim Beam Tipsy Barbecue Sauce

Mustard Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Cabernet Sauce
Lobster Sliders
Mom’s Famous Vinegared Shrimp

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Buttered Crumb Topping
Black Bean & Chicken Burritos from Nourish
Chicken Piccata

Creole Pasta
Spicy Ginger Beef in Lettuce Cups
Orange Chicken with Broccoli

Asian Dumpling Soup
Fettuccine Alfredo
Kentucky Baseball Picnic Bird

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sushi
Crunchy Sesame Chicken Wings
No-Knead Pizza Dough

Smoked Salmon Puff Pastry Pizza with Capers & Dill
Lemon Mustard Salmon Salad
Baked Mediterranean Snapper

Mexican Meatballs
Ghoulish Pasta
Better BLT's

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Buttered Crumb Topping
Coconut Shrimp and Rice Noodle Bowl
Minestrone Salad

Italian Wedding Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
View AllMost RecentSides

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes
Pickled Red Onions
Individual Herbed Potato Tarts

Bourbon-glazed carrots with orange zest
Graham Elliot's Cheddar Cheese Risotto
Red Cabbage, Pistachio, and Cranberry Salad with Blue Cheese from Jacques Pepin's ’s Heart and Soul in the Kitchen

Creamy Four-Cheese Macaroni from The Great Cook by James Briscone
Crispy Salt & Pepper Brussels Sprouts from Jessica Merchant's Seriously Delish
Cranberry and Pear Compote with Dried Winter Fruits

Clean eating Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin from Katie Farrell's Dashing Dish
Open-faced Ratatouille Sandwiches with Gruyere
Drunken Goat with Edamame, Fennel, and Rotini from MELT: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

FRESH FROM THE FARM by Susie Middleton
Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta and Tuna from Jeff Michaud, EATING ITALY
Darya Pino Rose uses food and science to lose weight

Rough-Cut Cole Slaw with Blue Cheese
Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Feta Vinaigrette
Roasted Redskin Potato Salad

Spicy Black Beans
The Spicy Olive's Mediterranean Barley Salad
Barbecue Lentils, minus the grill from Margaret Roach

Betty Goes Vegan Vegetarian Baked Beans
Corn Pudding
Zell Shulman's Potato Latkes

Herbed Parmesan Polenta
Rosemary Wild Rice
Grilled Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Crisp Crunchy Orange Jicama Slaw
Butter Bliss and Fruit Salad
Herbed Pita Wedges

Tabouleh with Herbed Pita Wedges
Grilled (or roasted) Asparagus
Fresh Fruit Salad with Yogurt Poppyseed Dressing

Simple Asian Meals: Tofu Noodle Salad with a Spicy Tahini Dressing
Lobster Mac n Cheese with Cognac Cream Sauce
Sweet Potato Salad with Brie and Maple Vinaigrette

Champ
Mushroom Mac n Cheese with Bacon and Blue Cheese
Tex- Mex Max n Cheese with Green Chiles and Corn Tortilla Crust

Roasted Corn, Black Bean and Avocado Salad
Sesame Noodle Chicken Salad
French Fries

Everything really is better with bacon!
Four easy ways to boost nutrition
Orzo with Spinach and Blue Cheese

Herbed Popovers
Apple Cranberry Coleslaw
Susie Middleton's Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy

10 ways with Pesto with Susie Middleton
Fruit Salad with Creamy Honey Lime Dressing
Corn on the Cob

Banana Bread
Garden Vegetable Coleslaw
Whole Yellow Tomatoes Stuffed Caprese-Style

Chef Jamie Purviance's Green Beans with Lemon Oil
Sweet and Spicy Grilled Corn
Peanut Noodle Salad with Edamame

Ramps
Beets
Sweet Potato Chips with Fried Sage

Tequila-spiked Fruit Salad with Lime
Gruyere Potatoes
Garbanzo Bean Salad

Grilled Naan
Chunky Guacamole
Open-faced Ratatouille Sandwiches with Gruyere

Antipasto Toss
Potato Poppers
Parmesan Parsnip Fingers with Chile Jam Dipping Sauce

Mushroom Potatoes
Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Buttered Crumb Topping
Onion Straws

Classic Italian Pasta Salad
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
Apple Bacon Broccoli Salad

Meme's Biscuits
Jag's Au Gratin Potatoes
Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Buttered Crumb Topping

Lemon Cups
View AllMost RecentVegetarian/Vegan

Mediterranean Flatbread
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes
Pickled Red Onions

Individual Herbed Potato Tarts
Crispy Salt & Pepper Brussels Sprouts from Jessica Merchant's Seriously Delish
Clean eating Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin from Katie Farrell's Dashing Dish

Overnight Oats
TEENY’S TOUR OF PIE: Georgia Peach Pie with Whole Wheat Crust
Open-faced Ratatouille Sandwiches with Gruyere

Drunken Goat with Edamame, Fennel, and Rotini from MELT: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese
Angela Liddon's GLOWing Strawberry-Mango Guacamole
MICHELE SCICOLONE and THE ITALIAN VEGETABLE COOKBOOK

Mini Caprese Skewers
Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta and Tuna from Jeff Michaud, EATING ITALY

Preserving the Harvest & Putting your Herbs to Bed with Rita Heikenfeld
Darya Pino Rose uses food and science to lose weight
Refrigerator Raspberry Jam

Pina Colada Cupcakes from Betty Goes Vegan
The Spicy Olive's Mediterranean Barley Salad
Barbecue Lentils, minus the grill from Margaret Roach

Betty Goes Vegan Vegetarian Baked Beans
Mediterranean Bean and Kale Sauté
Michele Scicolone's Farmer’s Vegetable Cream Soup from The Mediterranean Slow Cooker

Not so Naughty Chocolate Cake from Michael Moore's Blood Sugar: The Family
Ellie Krieger's Minestrone Soup from Small Changes, Big Results
Polenta Loaf with Rosemary, Parmesan and Olive Oil

Snobby Joes
No Flour Black Bean Brownies from Chocolate Covered Katie
Guacamole from Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor

Baked Dijon Tilapia with Crumb Crust
Very Veggie Savory Salad
Raspberry, Avocado & Mango Salad

Crispy Oven Fried Fish Fingers
Extra Crunchy Fish and Chips
Corn Pudding

Spiced Cabernet Truffles
Spring Mix with Goat Cheese Toast and Pomegranate Dressing
Caprese Crostini

Grammy's Date Nut Bread
Smoked Bourbon Paprika Nuts
Rosemary Wild Rice

Jesse Price's Southwestern Three-Bean & Barley Soup
Brown Sugar Apple Pie
Creamsicle Cupcake

Summer Greens Salad with Strawberries, Peppered Goat Cheese, Candied Almonds & Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Grilled Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
Crisp Crunchy Orange Jicama Slaw

Conscious Cosmo
Made-over Mai Tai
Raspberry Lavender Lemonade

Ginger Berry Flip from The Liquid Muse, Natalie Bovis
"Powdered Sugar Doughnut” Muffins
Hazelnut Boston Cream Cupcakes

Grilled Peach Salad with Spinach and Red Onion Vinaigrette
Banana Hazelnut Breakfast Panini
Grilled Figs with Honey Mascarpone

Curried Halibut, Snap Pea and Spring Mix with Lemongrass Vinaigrette
Herbed Pita Wedges
Tabouleh with Herbed Pita Wedges

Frozen Light- Lime Margarita
Romesco with grilled asparagus, fish and ramps from Smart Chefs Stay Slim byAllison Adato
Say Cheese! The perfect cheese platter

Inspired Idea: Ice Cream Balls
Goat Cheese Palmiers
Candy Carrots

Cheddar Carrots
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Wine-glazed Brie with Flower Petal Mosaic

Here's Looking at You: A Carrot Cocktail
Grilled (or roasted) Asparagus
Fresh Fruit Salad with Yogurt Poppyseed Dressing

Lasagna Fauxlognese with Brian Patton, The Sexy Vegan
Peperonata with Ricotta Crostoni from Jon's Wine Bar
Simple Asian Meals: Tofu Noodle Salad with a Spicy Tahini Dressing

Sweet Potato Salad with Brie and Maple Vinaigrette
Cheddar and Stout Fondue
Champ

Chewy Peanut Butter-Caramel Bars
Ricotta-filled Crepes with Berries
Chocolate Cherry Cake Roll

Cast Iron Apple Cobbler from Cooking Light
Lemon Glazed Pound Cake
Roasted Salmon with Pernod Sauce from Wini Moranville

Lemon Ginger Marmalade
Ice Bowls
Baked Goat Cheese in Spicy Tomato Sauce

French Fries
Four easy ways to boost nutrition
Maytag Cheddar Soup

The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking: Ciabatta
O is for Oatmeal
Orzo with Spinach and Blue Cheese

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Toasts
White Peach Sangria
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