Weekend rain stimulated my zucchini plants; they’re now awash in male & female flowers (which means I’ll be awash in zucchini very soon). Meanwhile, I’m picking the male flowers to stuff and fry or bake. Picking the female flowers will come a little later in the summer, after I’m sick and tired of zucchini. See, the male flowers grow on a thin stem, whereas female flowers are attached to a tiny immature zucchini fruit. Picking the female flowers prevents the fruit from maturing–a handy strategy when you’ve already given bags of zucchini to everyone you know.
To pick the blossoms, try to pluck the flowers soon after opening (usually in early morning), and clip or bread about 1 inch of stem attached to the flower. Carefully shake off any dirt or tiny bugs, and pinch out the stamens (the pollen-bearing structures inside the flower. With larger flowers, it’s easy to remove the stamens without breaking the blossom; smaller flowers may need a slit up one side to allow easy removal. That’s it–the flowers are ready to be stuffed or battered & fried.
I packed a few slivers of fontina into each blossom, twisting the flower shut to enclose the cheese. Herbed goat cheese or ricotta are also good stuffing choices. A drizzle of olive oil was the final step before roasting over a charcoal fire (about 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees). The brilliant yellow bites, oozing fragrant cheese, made an ideal starter to nibble on while grilling other things. Next time, I’ll fry a few…
I’ve never eaten squash blossoms, though I’m sure I would enjoy them. Can you describe the flavor?
The flavor is light, fresh, and vegetal: like a faint zucchini flavor, with overtones of cucumber & green. The flavor isn’t super-assertive, but it is a nice complement to a rich filling.
I used some in a fritatta for the Slow Foods dinner last week. But what I’m going to need really soon are some great new ideas for the actual zucchinis (I have gold and green-and-white striped ones. Inspirations, please?
As soon as I have some fruit, I’ll be on a zucchini roll. The chocolate zucchini cake in one of the King Arthur cookbooks is pretty good, and zucchini corn muffins are nice. This summer’s zucchini strategy: use ’em anywhere you’d use a grated carrot, only reduce the cooking time.
I’ve made these twice now, but sauteed on the stove, and with a basil leaf tucked in. They taste great but tend to disintegrate quickly. Yours are prettier by virtue of having been set on the foil instead of moving about in a pan.
Try baking in the toaster oven–just 10 min at 350 will do the trick. I like the texture that results from dry heat.