For years at the Farmers market I would see these zucchini blossoms/flowers and wonder what the heck you do with them. Sure they look pretty but can you cook with them and eat them. A co-worker told me you can stuff them but I didn’t think they had the capacity to be thoroughly stuffed. You stuff peppers and squash and they take a good amount of filling but this flower can’t be stuffed as much as one would like it to be. Finally, last week, I bought a box because (a) I was curious to see if I could pull it off and (b) I thought if most of the population is eating these suckers raw, baking, stuffing and/or simply frying them, then I would like to know what they taste like gosh darn it. I refuse to die without at least experiencing a zucchini flower.
Speaking of taste, can I just comment on Vegemite? Yes, I will, thanks. For those who love this really salty, really brown paste made from yeast extract, knock yourselves out, and to each their own. My husband loves it and eats it on bread with butter. I also learned that you can put this in casseroles, soups, burgers, pasta, etc. I had no problem dying without tasting this but my curiosity got the better of me. I tried a few bites. It’s made from brewers’ yeast. I love beer 🙂 I don’t love Vegemite.
Where were we..um, yes, we were about to fry some flowers stuffed with cheese. Let’s get to it before the flowers wither and die. Speaking of which, zucchini flowers have a short shelf life and best used the day you get them. Here is something I did not know. Zucchini plants produce male and female flowers. Male blossoms have a long, thin stem and female blossoms are attached directly to the zucchini.
Before you start stuffing and frying, bear in mind that you need to make the batter and let it stand for an hour. Mix 1 cup of all purpose white flour, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 3/4 cups of warm water. Let sit for one hour. When you have stuffed your flowers and the oil is hot, whisk an egg into the batter and dip the flowers.
Recipe taken and slightly adapted from Food & Style
Pan-fried zucchini flowers with ricotta and fresh herbs
makes 20 flowers or serves 4
active time: 45 min
For the batter
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 extra large egg
For the stuffing
- 1 extra large egg – lightly beaten
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 shallot – skinned and finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped garden herbs (Italian parsley, basil, oregano, thyme and sage)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 20 medium fresh zucchini flowers
- olive oil for pan-frying
- For the batter – Mix the flour, salt and water in a large bowl. Set aside and let stand for 1 hour. Just before dipping the flowers into the batter, whisk in the egg.
- To stuff the flowers – Mix the egg, ricotta, shallot, herbs, salt and pepper until well blended and set aside. Make a slit lengthwise in each flower and remove the stamen. Using a dessert spoon, place a small amount of the stuffing at the base of each flower and twist the petals so that the stuffing is held safely inside the flower. Place on a baking sheet.
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet to high heat. Add enough oil to the pan to reach 1/8” up the sides. When the oil is hot, dip each flower in the batter and add them to the pan. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Flip the flowers and continue to sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until golden. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all flowers have been used, reducing the heat when the pan gets very hot so the oil doesn’t burn. Alternatively, use 2 pans. To serve, overlap 5 flowers in the center of each plate and serve immediately.
- Cook’s note: The flowers must be served piping hot, they become soggy as they cool.