Friday, June 11, 2010

Branzino tartare with zucchini blossoms, basil and tomato

One of the most exciting things I'm experiencing now that I moved back to Italy is the diversity of ingredients. Every time I go to the grocery store, there's a plethora of vegetables, proteins, grains, and so on, that in the last few years I couldn't find in Florida. Point in case: this very recipe contains not one but two ingredients that were pretty much impossible to find in Naples. Branzino, also called Mediterrenean seabass has little to do with its bigger Atlantic counterpart and is the living proof that bigger isn't always better. Au contraire, sometimes small things are packed with more flavor and tenderness than bigger ones. Baby zucchini and zucchini blossoms were available in Florida for about two weeks each year, so you can easily imagine how high their price was.

Not here. Both branzino and zucchini blossom are readily available, and with price tags that didn't make me weep. They made me smile.

But there's another exciting thing I'm experiencing right now that almost makes me more excited than food: watching the soccer World Cup... in a country that really cares for soccer. Because there are only a few things that are more Italian than soccer, or watching soccer for that matter. And especially watching the World Cup, which is one of the few times when Italians come together and cheer for the same thing —namely the Italian team. I have many funny, sad, exciting and boring stories about the past World Cups and about me watching them, and I will tell you all of them in the next 30 days. But for now, I want to leave you with a recipe that kind of brings together two of my biggest passions, two things that really don't go well together: soccer and fine cuisine. So what does a fish tartare have to do with soccer, you may ask? Well, look at it. You will notice that this dish has the colors of my flag —red, white and green. Go Italy!


Serves 4

3/4 pounds Mediterranean seabass, minced
6 baby zucchini with their flowers
A handful of basil
1 lime
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tomato, cubed
Salt and pepper

Mince zucchini flowers, , wash the zucchini and cut into small cubes.

Thinly slice shallot and soak in cold water for about 10 minutes. Drain, dry and place into a blender with a little olive oil, salt to taste, juice of a half lime, a handful of fresh basil and few drops of Tabasco.

Mix the minced seabass with the cubed tomato, zucchini and their flowers. Season with salt and pepper and season with the sauce you made in the blender. Shape using a mold and enjoy immediately.


  1. Wow! How beautiful! I would love to be able to experience the things you are in Italy!

  2. Wow, these look so elegant! In miniature form, they'd be the perfect appetizer for a dinner party :)

  3. This is an excellent recipe! I love the way you've presented it too. Yum!

    I wish we were a bit more into soccer here. Have fun watching! ;)

  4. Jessica: thanks for stopping by! Italy is really beautiful, especially this time of the year!

    LLL: you are right, they are perfect as an appetizer because they are tasty but not too filling. Thanks for the visit!

    Kim: Needless to say, I'm having a great time watching the games!



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