Edible flowers are undeniably fun. What makes them even more exciting is when they are versatile and delicious as well. Zucchini blossoms, which are the flowering part of the zucchini plant, are in season during the summer months and can be used in a variety of your favorite summer recipes.
There are a few things that I just can’t walk past without purchasing while perusing the farmers’ market. One of those things are zucchini blossoms (if you’re curious, other such things are ramps and fiddlehead ferns, but I’ll cover those at a later time). Maybe their appeal has to do with their short seasonal window, or maybe it is their delicate, sweet flavor and striking orange color. Either way, they are a lovely reminder of how romantic and whimsical food can be.
Zucchini blossoms, or flowers, are in season when zucchini are in season — during the warm summer months. The way they grow depends on whether the flowers are male or female. The male flower grows on a thin stem, while the female flowers grow directly out the emerging zucchini squash. Male flowers drop off after they have opened and pollinated the female flowers, so if you’re growing your own zuccchini, cut the male flowers. Only the females will develop into squash.
How to choose and store zucchini blossoms
Choosing squash blossoms is very similar to choosing decorative flowers. Look for vibrant, fresh-looking flowers that are tightly closed. Since the flowers are very delicate and perishable, it is best to use them the day of purchase, but they will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag.
How to prep zucchini blossoms
When you are ready to use your blossoms, the first thing you’ll want to do is give them a gentle rinse in cool water and then allow them to dry completely on paper or clean kitchen towels. Next, carefully open them with your fingers to check for any bugs that may be hiding inside. Then you’ll remove the piece sticking up from the base of the flower (which is called the stamen on male flowers and pistil on females).
How to cook zucchini blossoms
Squash blossoms are delicious when served in a variety of ways. To add a fun pop of color to summer salads, chop up the zucchini flowers and toss them in with mixed greens. For a new take on pizza, try topping your homemade pie with sliced zucchini, caramelized onions and whole zucchini flowers. Or, add flair to a basic zucchini risotto recipe by wilting in chopped zucchini flowers right before the risotto is finished. But, my all-time favorite way to prepare zucchini blossoms at home is to stuff them with ricotta cheese and fresh basil and then fry them until light and crispy, like in the recipe below.
Zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta and basil
Serves 4 as an appetizer
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 16 zucchini blossoms, stamens removed
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 ounces lager-style beer
- Make the filling by combining the ricotta, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Using a spoon, carefully fill each of the zucchini blossoms with about a tablespoon of the ricotta filling.
- Heat three inches of vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 350 degrees F. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and whisk in the beer, stopping just before the batter is totally smooth (overmixing the batter will deflate it and will make it harder to get that light, crispy coating).
- Working one by one, dredge the stuffed blossoms in the batter, shake off the excess and then gently place them in the hot oil. Fry them for about three minutes, flipping once using a slotted spoon, and then transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle lighly with a little extra kosher salt while hot and serve immediately.