I can’t think of anything more seasonal, more delicate, more miraculous than the zucchini blossom, Fellow FoodBeest. They are one of the true treasures of summer.
Zucchini flowers show up – usually in farmers markets – early in summer and last through the season. They are the color – and the flavor – of sunshine. Very zucchini-like, they are a fragile delicacy.
Until a few years ago, it was difficult to find these flowers, Fellow FoodBeest. My mother, if she ever saw one, would certainly have had no idea you could eat it. Most supermarkets don’t carry then because of their fragility. They last only a day or so after they are picked.
I first discovered them at farmers’ markets throughout the summer (zucchini season). They were also abundant and inexpensive at the tianga (weekly market) in San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico.
You can begin to imagine my delight, Fellow FoodBeest when I walked into the produce department at one of this city’s newest and best supermarkets this week to find something I had never seen in a supermarket before in my life. There was a literal bushel basket of beautiful fresh zucchini blossoms from a local farm. I couldn’t believe my eyes and I gathered them up as fast as I could.
In the wonderful world of zucchini, there are female zucchini flowers and male zucchini flowers. They are both totally edible.
Female flowers, to no one’s surprise, turn into zucchinis. If you’re lucky and at a farmers market or grow your own zucchini, you may find zucchinis with a female flower on one end of it.
The male flowers grow directly on the stem of the zucchini plant on a long stalk. They are slightly larger than the female flower, which is a good thing because it makes them easier to stuff.
Zucchini blossoms may appear on plates on frittatas, in tacos, or as a decoration for a plate. They are lovely stuffed, baked, fried, sautéed or cooked in soups, mostly in the cuisines of Italy and Mexico.
Firm and fresh blossoms that are only slightly open are cooked after the pistils are removed from female flowers, and stamens removed from male flowers. You can keep the stem on the flowers so you have something to hold onto during cooking, but you probably want to pinch or cut it off prior to serving.
These stuffed, fried zucchini blossoms are finger food with the crunch of a french fry, but the depth and surprise flavor of the cheese, chives and, of course, the blossom of the zucchini, itself. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like them.
What You Need To Make Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
12 zucchini blossoms
¼ C fresh ricotta cheese
2 T chèvre or other goat cheese (Parmesan or a sheep’s milk cheese is also good)
1 T cream
1 t chopped fresh chives
[You can substitute or add fresh parsley, thyme or marjoram]
salt and pepper
¼ C flour
2 T beer (or white wine or buttermilk)
1/8 t smoked paprika
salt and pepper
¼ C vegetable oil
What It Takes to Make Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
With a fork, beat the ricotta in a small bowl with the chèvre, cream, chives and salt and pepper, to taste.
Mix the flour into a mixing bowl with a good pinch of salt. Pour in the beer (or wine or buttermilk) and whisk until smooth. The batter will be rather thick and stick to your finger.
Clean the blossoms. Check inside the petals for small bugs and then brush blossoms with a damp paper towel. Stems and pistils are edible, but can be a little bitter. Open the pedals of the zucchini flowers gently and with your fingers, pinch off the pointed yellow stamen (or pistil) inside.
With a teaspoon, carefully fill each flower with the ricotta mixture. Some people find it easier (and less messy) to spoon the ricotta into a sandwich bag, snip about a half-inch off the corner and use this as a makeshift piping bag to gently squeeze the filling into each flower. Carefully press the flower pedals back together around the mixture to seal it in. Then put the flowers aside.
Heat up the oil in a fry pan.
One by one, dip the ricotta-stuffed flowers into the batter, making sure they’re completely covered, and let any excess gently drip off.
Carefully place each blossom into the hot oil. Don’t crowd the pan so they don’t stick together. Gently fry until golden and crisp all over, then lift them out of the oil and drain on two layers of paper towels.
Remove to a plate. Serve them immediately.