It’s time to talk zucchini. Just about now, there are zucchini flowers in the garden. First come the male flowers, which look like the ones above, handsomely gathered for sale at a market. Male zucchini flowers are identifiable because they grown on long stems, and have a long stamen or pistil inside. You don’t need a lot of male zucchinis to fertilize all the female zucchinis in the vegetable patch. Not if the insects are doing their duty. In fact most people worry that somewhere in the vegetable patch there is an overlooked zucchini growing to be the size of a log.
A scary fact: the Guiness Book of World Records says the longest zucchini ever grown was 7 feet 10.3 inches.
No matter how many ways you know to cook zucchini – grilled, roasted, fried, baked, stuffed, grated into sauces and hidden in cakes and pizzas, shredded in salads, made into latkes, handed out as your “famous” zucchini bread – pretty soon you’re going to sound like Bubba in “Forrest Gump,” when he was describing shrimp: “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. …”
So go ahead and pick those made zucchini blossoms. They have a wonderful fate ahead. Here are three recipes we at FlowerPower especially like.
The one from Bon Appetit is probably the most common stuffed zucchini recipe: a zucchini blossom stuffed with ricotta and then fried to a light golden shell.
And the third recipe is for those who want a vegan dish: zucchini blossoms stuffed with quinoa, from a delightful web site called One Arab Vegan.
1 cup ricotta
1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil (for frying)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounce chilled Pilsner, lager-style beer, or club soda
Zucchini blossoms (stamens removed; about 2 dozen)
To fill about 16, combine ricotta, mint, and lemon zest in a bowl. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using a spoon, fill each blossom with about 1 Tbsp. ricotta mixture.
In a large pot, heat about 2″ oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl, then whisk in beer until almost smooth (some small lumps are welcome—don’t over-whisk or you’ll deflate the batter). One by one, dredge the blossoms in batter, shaking off the excess; gently lay them in the oil, without crowding the pan. Cook, flipping once with a slotted spoon, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with sea salt and devour while hot.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sparkling water
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/3 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1 green onion, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
8 zucchini blossoms
Vegetable oil, for frying
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, water and salt until smooth. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream, basil, and green onion. Mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons filling into each blossom. Close the blossoms and gently twist the petals to seal.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350 degrees F. (If you don’t have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 1 minute.) Dip the stuffed zucchini blossoms in the batter and allow any excess batter to drip off. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Allow the cooked blossoms to drain on paper towels.
Season with salt and serve with your favorite marinara sauce or vinaigrette.
20 fresh zucchini blossoms
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup smashed chickpeas
1 large tomato, finely diced
A small handful of fresh dill, parsley and mint, finely chopped (save the stems)
1 large onion finely chopped or grated
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup organic vegetable stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Start by washing the blossoms very well. They will probably have small bugs and dirt on them, so soaking them in a bowl of cold water and washing each blossom individually is advisable. If possible, try to pick blossoms that are more open so that they’re easier to stuff.
To make the filling, combine the quinoa, smashed chickpeas, tomato, herbs, garlic, olive oil, tomato paste and seasonings in a large mixing bowl. Tip: to save time you can use a small food processor to help you chop the onions and herbs.
Using a small spoon (or your bear hands), stuff each blossom with the filling, and squeeze gently to firm up. Careful not to tear the blossoms as you do this.
Layer a medium sized pot with parsley and other herb stems to create a bed, then carefully arrange the blossoms tightly until the whole bottom of the pan is full.
Add vegetable stock until just over level with the top of the blossoms, then bring to a boil on medium heat. Careful not to go overboard as the boiling water can disrupt the delicate blossoms. Turn down to a low heat and cover, then cook until quinoa is fluffy and flowers are tender, around 30 mins.