It is hard to believe a pile of pretty orange and white flowers can be transformed into a flavorful appetizer in a matter of minutes. If you’ve never made stuffed zucchini flowers, prepare to be amazed at how you can make a presentation-forward spring dish in a matter of minutes.
And if you were formerly a slave to battering and deep frying squash blossoms, this recipe is going to change up your plans for your spring harvest with this light and easy method for cooking stuffed squash blossoms.
What are zucchini flowers?
As an Italian-America, I was no stranger to the joys of eating squash flowers as a child. But many Americans have never tried this joyful expression of spring’s bloom. If you’ve walked through a local farmer’s market at the right time of year, you’ve probably seen piles of blossoms, either attached to tiny squash or just jumbled into bags or paper cartons.
These are simply the flowers of the zucchini plant. There’s really nothing more exotic about them than that. Interestingly, the male plants will produce flowers but with no fruit but the female zucchinis will produce cute little baby zucchini behind them. And yes, these are the same kind of zucchini that will be sold in bountiful quantities a month or two later. In fact, if you grow zucchini, you can just pluck blossoms from your own garden for this stuffed squash blossom recipe.
Use squash flowers when the are fresh
You will want to make sure to use zucchini flowers when they are fresh. Ideally the same day they are purchased or plucked from your garden. And be sure to gently wash and thoroughly dry thee blossoms before using them. Check inside for any tiny critters that may be hiding inside the zucchini blossom’s folds.
How do you store zucchini blooms?
If you have to store these flowers overnight, wrap them in damp paper towel and store them in the refrigerator. Do not wash the squash blooms until you are ready to use them.
What do squash blossoms taste like?
Like most edible flowers, zucchini flowers have an extremely mild flavor. The taste is similar to that of zucchini itself, which is a popular vegetable, (technically, it is a fruit), because it is so mild. But something that the zucchini fruit doesn’t have that zucchini blossom recipes offer is a sensual, velvety texture.
Cooking stuffed squash blossoms
The most popular way to use these edible flowers is to make fried squash blossoms. But battering and frying diminishes the sexy texture of the petals themselves. That’s why I made this recipe for sautéed zucchini blossoms. (In addition to showcasing the texture and delicate flavor of the zucchini blossoms, this zucchini flower recipe is quicker and easier than making fried zucchini blossoms.)
I use a ricotta cheese mixture to fill my squash blossoms. I like this blend of milk cheese and chives, the brightness of lemon zest and just a pinch of salt & pepper. The blend works to accentuate the natural flavor of squash blossom. I wrote this recipe to make enough for a crowd. However it can be a sensational dish for a backyard picnic for two or just a weeknight snack with a glass of wine and your one and only.
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
- 1 lb part skim ricotta
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp fresh chives finely chopped
- zest of 1 lemon
- salt & black pepper to taste
- Thoroughly mix the ricotta and egg. Gently fold in the chives and zest then season with salt and pepper. Scoop the mixture into a sandwich-sized Ziplock bag.
- Gently wash and dry 20-24 squash blossoms.
To fill the squash blossoms
- Cut one of the two bottom corners of the ricotta-stuffed Ziplock to make a homemade pastry bag. Squeeze the stuffing from the bag into the cup of each blossom, filling until the blossom is about 3/4 full. Fold the tops of the petals over to form a seal around the filling. Sprinkle the outside of the blossoms with additional salt and black pepper.
- While you’re stuffing the blossoms, you can be heating the oil in a heavy saute pan. Annette used a neutral oil to allow the delicate flavor of the squash shine. (Good choices include grape seed, soybean or walnut oil.) Being the consummate chef, Annette merely eyeballed the oil but I’d hazard a guess that she used about 2 tbsp. (Use enough to thoroughly coat the bottom of your pan.)
To saute the zucchini flowers
- Heat your oil over medium/medium high heat. The oil should be heated to that point just before it begins to bubble.
- Using a sweeping motion away from your body to prevent getting splashed, drop the blossoms into the oil one at a time. Cook until brown on the bottom, approximately 3 minutes, then flip.
- Cook until the second side is brown, another 2-3 minutes. Move the cooked blossoms to a paper towel to drain and cool slightly for about 2-3 minutes.
- The blossoms are best when they’re hot. Just be careful not to burn your tongue.
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