Zucchini Blossoms

28 07 2008

One of the goals of The Seasonal Gourmet is to develop recipes that almost anyone can make without searching high and low for exotic ingredients.  However, I feel that I must make a minor exception for zucchini blossoms.  They are not easy to find but if you do happen to come across some they are a wonderful treat.  Your best chance of finding them is at a farmer’s market – they are too fragile to be shipped very far for supermarkets.  The are very popular in Italy where they are often stuffed and then fried in a batter.  I don’t know why they aren’t more popular in North America because there certainly isn’t a shortage of zucchini here.  Perhaps a lot of people don’t realize that the flowers are edible (and delicious!).

Here are two recipes I’ve developed based on zucchini flowers I’ve eaten in Italy.  There are a few steps but it comes together quite easily and the results are definitely worth it.

Zucchini Blossoms with Herbed Ricotta

(VEGETARIAN)

Ricotta Filling:

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon very finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon very finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until blended.  Set aside until ready to use (can be made in advance and refrigerated).

Batter:

  • 1/2  cup unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or neutral oil (such as canola or safflower)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3 egg whites
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add flour and olive oil.  Mix together with a spoon.  Add water 1/4 cup at a time, stirring completely into flour mixture.  Add enough to make a smooth batter. 
  2. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Carefully fold beaten egg whites into batter.  Set aside until ready to use.

Putting it all together:

  • 10 to 12 zucchini flowers
  • Neutral oil for frying (such as safflower or canola) – enough to fill a large sauce pan about 2″ deep OR if you have a deep fryer, fill with oil according to manufacturer’s instructions
  • Sea salt
  • Lemon wedges
  1. Clean blossoms thoroughly, by gently peeling back the petals and rinsing inside.  Remove any stamen inside the blossom.  Blot carefully to dry on clean dish cloths or paper towels.  
  2. Carefully separate the petals and fill each flower with a spoonful of ricotta mixture.  Fold petals back up to enclose filling.  Dip blossoms in batter until they are coated.   
  3. Very carefully heat oil in pan (or heat deep fryer) until it is around 350 degrees Farenheit.  You should be able to fry a cube of bread until golden brown in about 15 seconds once it’s at the proper temperature (watch closely and reduce heat if oil begins to smoke).
  4. Drop a few battered blossoms at a time into the oil.   Cook until puffed and golden brown, approximately 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove blossoms from heat and drain on a layer of paper towel.   
  5. Repeat the frying process with remaining blossoms.  Sprinkle with sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and serve immediately.

 

Zucchini Blossoms with Shrimp

This recipe was inspired by a dish I had at Ristorante Romano, a seafood restaurant in Viareggio, Italy on the Tuscan coast.  This follows the same technique as the ricotta stuffed blossoms above but is even simpler because the filling doesn’t require any mixing.

  • 10 to 12 zucchini blossoms
  • 10 to 12 large cooked shrimp, shells and tails removed
  • Batter – see recipe above
  • Neutral oil for frying (such as safflower or canola) – enough to fill a large sauce pan about 2″ deep OR if you have a deep fryer, fill with oil according to manufacturer’s instructions
  • Sea salt
  • Lemon wedges
  1. Clean blossoms thoroughly, by gently peeling back the petals and rinsing inside.  Remove any stamen inside the blossom.  Blot carefully to dry on clean dish cloths or paper towels.  
  2. Carefully separate the petals and fill each flower with a shrimp.  Fold petals back up to enclose shrimp.  Dip blossoms in batter until they are coated.   
  3. Very carefully heat oil in pan (or heat deep fryer) until it is around 350 degrees Farenheit.  You should be able to fry a cube of bread until golden brown in about 15 seconds once it’s at the proper temperature (watch closely and reduce heat if oil begins to smoke).
  4. Drop a few battered blossoms at a time into the oil.   Cook until puffed and golden brown, approximately 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove blossoms from heat and drain on a layer of paper towel.   
  5. Repeat the frying process with remaining blossoms.  Sprinkle with sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and serve immediately.

Bon Appetit and Enjoy!

 

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