Stuffed zucchini flowers

July 16, 2011 7:59:51 AM PDT
Just water, fertilizer and sunlight are all it takes for the plants to grow on John Mooney's rooftop farm in the West Village. They sprout right out of aeroponic towers - right above his restaurant, Bell Book and Candle, which is located on 141 W. 10th between Greenwich Avenue and Waverly Place.

"I focus a lot of my energy on sourcing," says Mooney.

In other words, he cooks what he grows, which is everything ranging from cilantro, fennel, tomatoes and melons, to zucchini and their blossoms. In fact, he clips the zucchini blossoms right off, and brings them down to the kitchen where they are stuffed.

Mooney sautés mushrooms with garlic and shallots his own thyme and chives, and then in goes some goat cheese. This all gets transferred to a pastry bag, which he uses to fill each zucchini blossom. He then places a little oil on top, and quickly roasts them in the oven. Served with Romesco Sauce, you will not be able to find anything fresher.

Mooney tries to incorporate his rooftop treasures in everything he makes, but sometimes he has to reach out to purveyors for meats and seafood, of course. The food, the space and the farm are all part of the draw.

"It's the Village, but for 2011, it's great a great spot it really is," Mooney says.

And he has plenty of loyal customers and local crops to feed them.

Below is the recipe if you would like to make Mooney's stuffed zucchini blossoms (complete with the Romesco Sauce) at home.

Zucchini flowers stuffed with mushroom and goat cheese, served with Romesco Sauce

Serves 4

John Mooney, Bell Book & Candle

  • 1 pound of mushrooms, domestic is fine. I use a combination of cremini, shiitake, and oyster.
  • 16 pieces zucchini flower
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 4 sprigs picked thyme
  • 1 small bunch sliced chives
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 shallot diced fine
  • Grape seed oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


    Lightly coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with grape seed oil. Place the garlic in the pan, and heat over a low flame until garlic begins to brown slightly. Next, add the shallots and mushrooms and increase the heat to medium. Stirring frequently, cook until the mushrooms have become wilted and there is no more liquid in the pan. Add the thyme and chives and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Fold in the goat cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a piping bag, and fill each flower about halfway to the top. Fold the leaves around the filling to the keep it from spilling out in the cooking process. Place flowers on a baking tray, and roast in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 6 minutes. Spoon a thin layer of Romesco on the bottom of a plate a put the flowers on top. Serve promptly.


  • 1 whole beef steak tomato, core removed
  • 1 whole red bell pepper
  • 1 ounce peeled hazelnuts
  • 1 ounce peeled almonds
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Juice from ½ a lemon
  • 2 ounces grape seed oil
  • Salt and pepper


    Roast the red pepper and tomato over a direct flame until charred on the outside. Using a grill or cast iron skillet works fine as well. Put the pepper in a bowl, and cover for five minutes, then remove the skin, seeds and stem. Place the tomato and pepper aside. In a medium saucepot put the grape seed oil with the garlic, and begin to heat over medium flame. When the garlic starts to brown lightly add the hazelnuts and almonds. Stir continuously until nuts become golden brown. Next, add the pepper and tomato and stew on low heat for five minutes. Place in a blender, and blend until smooth. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, then serve.