Pan-Fried Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

July 21, 2014
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Having grown up in an Italian family, I still have fond memories of our rather large vegetable gardens. My parents and extended family would always be sharing their large vegetable bounties; giant tomatoes, delicious purple eggplants, and massive zucchini to name a few. One of my favourite delicacies from these urban family “farms” wasn’t actually a vegetable at all, but a flower. The beautiful and extremely delicious zucchini flower!

Photos by ADV Photography

Like most other vegetables, the zucchini plant blossoms with flowers before any zucchinis start growing. Most people ignore these flowers and wait another couple of months before enjoying what the zucchini plant can offer – what an unfortunate mistake! Those flowers can be picked and enjoyed in many ways; my favourite of which is to stuff and pan-fry them.

Here’s the recipe, all the way from picking the flowers to enjoying your creation.

Step 1: Leave the women out of it!

Once your plant blossoms and there are a good number of flowers, you should go out and pick some. Just be careful to pick the right ones. Each plant has both male and female blossoms. LEAVE THE WOMEN ALONE! The male flowers are growing out of stems, while the female flowers have small zucchini that are starting to grow. If you pick the female ones, you’ll have no actual zucchini crop, so only pick the males.

Once the flowers are picked, wash them rapidly under cold water and gently pat them dry. Remove the stems and place them to the side. It’s now time to make the stuffing and the batter.

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Step 2: The stuffing

Really, you could stuff the flowers with anything your heart desires. I’ve enjoyed them stuffed with mozzarella cheese, anchovies (I know, I’m weird), or not stuffed at all. My favourite type of stuffing, however, is a ricotta cheese-based stuffing.

One cup ricotta cheese
A couple leaves of fresh basil and parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup spinach, finely chopped (though frozen chopped spinach will do, once it’s defrosted of course)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir them together. Try some, and add more salt and pepper if you think it’s necessary (just don’t eat it all… trust me, it happens).


Step 3: The batter

The batter is actually quite simple to make. All you need is some flour and some beer or club soda (really, anything that sparkles – you could even try champagne).

One cup flour
One cup beer or club soda
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the ingredients together until there are no more chunks of flour (until it looks like batter).


Step 4: Fill them up

Open up the flowers and fill each with approximately one tablespoon of stuffing. You could change the amount you use based on your personal tastes or on the size of the flower. Be careful though! You don’t want to put too much stuffing in because then it might leak out during the frying process.

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Step 5: Fry ‘em up!

Firstly, you’ll need to fill up a pan with some vegetable oil (around an inch deep) and turn the stove heat to high. Once the oil is hot, begin battering your flowers. Fully cover the flower in batter and place it in the oil. Leave it on its side for approximately two minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Flip the flower over and repeat.

Here’s a handy GIF in case you are confused.


Final Step: Enjoy

Now it’s finally time to experience your new found love of zucchini flowers! You may want to garnish these freshly fried beauties with some Parmesan cheese before you take a taste of heaven. Unfortunately, you’ll soon realize that the zucchini flower season is a very short one, so hurry up!

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