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Zucchini Blossoms

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Once a year, there is a rare opportunity to take advantage of a culinary delight. Zucchini blossoms are gorgeous yellow/orange flowers that resemble a lily. Most gardeners just ignore the blossom while waiting for the zucchini to grow and then harvest it. I, however, look forward to the blossoms and each year scheme to find them. I haunt the farmer’s markets and neighbors gardens waiting to scoop up the brightly colored treasures. Several years ago, I grew zucchini just to get at the blossoms.

The blossoms taste like “Garden Perfume.” The flowers have a fruity fragrance that is delicate and addicting!

The female flower is a golden blossom on the end of each emergent zucchini. The male flower grows directly on the stem of the zucchini plant in the leaf axils (where leaf petiole meets stem), on a long stalk, and is slightly smaller than the female. Both flowers are edible, and are often used to dress a meal or garnish the cooked fruit.

Firm and fresh blossoms that are only slightly open are cooked to be eaten, with pistils removed from female flowers, and stamens removed from male flowers. The stem on the flowers can be retained as a way of giving the cook something to hold onto during cooking, rather than injuring the delicate petals, or they can be removed prior to cooking, or prior to serving. There are a variety of recipes in which the flowers may be deep fried as fritters or tempura (after dipping in a light tempura batter), stuffed, sautéed, baked, or used in soups.

Once you try Zucchini Blossom, you will find yourself plotting ways to get more of these rare delicacies.

Zucchini Blossoms only appear when the plants are immature, usually in the early summer. I like my blossoms tempura battered and fried but also serve them stuffed with cheeses, fried and served with a fresh basil/tomato sauce.

Fried Zucchini Blossom Batter

1/3  cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup rice flour

¾ cup club soda

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

12 zucchini blossoms, washed and dried

  1. Place a large bowl with ice a small amount of water in it. Place a smaller bowl in the ice water and whisk together the tempura batter.
  2. Heat a medium sauté pan with 1 inch of extra virgin olive oil in it over medium high heat.
  3. Dip the blossoms into the batter and allow the excess batter to drip off. When the oil is at 350 degrees, gently place the dipped blossom into the batter and fry it until it is crispy and golden brown (about 1-2 minutes). Turn the blossom and fry the other side. Transfer the blossom to a paper towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

1 recipe tempura batter (see above)

¼ cup grated mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup cream cheese, softened at room temperature

12 zucchini blossoms

  1. Whisk the batter together over ice water and keep cold.
  2. Mix the cheeses together.
  3. Gently open a zucchini blossom and remove the stamen or pistil. Take a pinch of cheese and stuff it into the cavity of the blossom. Pull the flower petals back together and set aside.
  4. Continue stuffing all of the blossoms with the cheese mixture.
  5. Heat a medium sauté pan with 1 inch of extra virgin olive oil in it over medium high heat.
  6. Dip the blossoms into the batter and allow the excess batter to drip off. When the oil is at 350 degrees, gently place the dipped blossom into the batter and fry it until it is crispy and golden brown (about 1-2 minutes). Turn the blossom and fry the other side. Transfer the blossom to a paper towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and serve with favorite tomato sauce or use as garnish for gazpacho.
Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here. For more articles by Laura, click here.
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