It is that time of the year again, when my prolific zucchini plants start producing beautiful blossoms. I picked the first ones last week and since I planted six plants I pick lots of zucchini blossoms on a daily basis. So far I have enjoyed them stuffed and fried, one of my favorite way to eat them. In Calabria zucchini blossoms are very popular. In fact you can see from the picture below how they are sold at the market: in beautiful bunches, picked in the morning and brought to market that day.
The most common way to eat them in Calabria is coated in a batter and fried, or mixed in with pasta. Last year while in Calabria at one of my favorite restaurant, Dattilo, I ate them in spaghetti with clams. They are wonderful in a frittata or on top of pizza. I have a recipe for pizza with stuffed zucchini blossoms in my upcoming cookbook.
If you grow your own zucchini, you will notice that the plant produces two types of blossom, a male and a female. The female blossom is attached to the zucchini and falls off as the fruit matures. The male flower, with the long stem, serves no purpose other than fertilization, so these are the ones you'll want to pick and cook.
I pick the male blossoms early in the morning while they are still open and place them in a glass of water if I plan to use them the same day. When I want to make a dish that requires lots of blossoms, I put them in a plastic bag, blow some air into it, and close it tightly. I then store the bag in the refrigerator upright until I collect enough flowers for the dish.
If you are buying them at the farmers' market, look for flowers that are fresh and perky, and avoid the limp or wilted ones. Once they are closed it is very hard to open them (which you need to do to stuff them) without damaging the flower. You can use closed flowers in dishes where they will be chopped or sliced.
Here are the many ways I cook with zucchini blossoms:
- Stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy, and coated in a batter and fried;
- Stuffed with ricotta and fresh herbs and baked;
- Mixed in at the last minute in a risotto;
- Tossed with pasta;
- Cut in strips and added to a frittata;
- Stuffed with goat cheese on top of pizza.
If you are interested, please join me in my July 10 cooking class and we'll prepare the blossoms picked from my garden with the following recipe:
Frittelle di Fiori di Zucchine
Zucchini Blossoms Stuffed with Mozzarella
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup cold water
Olive oil for frying
12 zucchini blossoms, stems attached if possible
6 ounces whole milk mozzarella
6 salted anchovies filets, cleaned, rinsed and cut in two pieces
For the Batter: Place the flour and salt in a bowl and make a shallow well in the center. Place the beaten egg in the well and mix it into the flour with a fork. Stir in the water, pressing any lumps with the back of the fork to remove. Mix to a consistency that resembles thin pancake batter. When you lift some batter with the fork, it should fall in a ribbon. If the batter is too thick, add more water, a teaspoon at a time. If too thin, add a little more flour. Set aside.
Heat the Oil: Heat about 1 inch of oil in a Dutch oven or frying pan over medium heat until it is hot enough to sizzle the end of a wooden chopstick (about 365 degrees F for olive oil).
Prepare the Blossoms: Just before frying, rinse blossoms, remove the pistil and any insects that might be hiding inside.
Slice the cheese into squares or "logs" small enough to fit deep inside the blossoms so that you can fold over the petals to fully enclose the cheese. Place a piece of anchovy in each blossom along with the cheese cube and fold over the petals to close the opening.
When the oil is hot enough, dip a flower into batter and turn with a large spoon to coat. Using the spoon, transfer the battered blossom to the oil, pouring any batter that accumulates in the bottom of the spoon back atop the frying blossom, making sure it is coated. Fry the blossom on both sides just until the batter is cooked through, about 1 minute total. When done, the batter will be lightly golden, not brown. Drain on paper towels and repeat battering and frying the remaining blossoms 2 or 3 at a time without allowing them to touch each other in the oil. As necessary, regulate the temperature to keep oil at 365 degrees F while frying. Be careful when turning the blossoms as they tend to splatter when any residual water spills into the hot oil.
Serve immediately with a napkin and a salt shaker, if desired. Be careful of the molten cheese inside when you eat these.
Serves 4 (makes 12 blossoms)
Copyright, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.