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Monday, June 7, 2010

Chronicles of a New Garden: zucchini blossoms

by Francesca


zucchini blossom

When I saw the first bright yellow blossoms among the still sparse greenery of my garden, I was ecstatic. So far my garden has only produced several different kinds of lettuces, and a few radishes, but nothing else! Thanks to a very late spring, my peas and fava beans (the first vegetables to ripen in this area) are just beginning to flower now, a month behind – I'm not sure whether I'll ever harvest them at all, as it's now getting too hot for them to thrive. These yellow blossoms mean the beginning of some serious harvesting in the garden, and we celebrated their arrival with two zucchini dishes, of which the blossoms were the key ingredient.



If you grow your own zucchini plants, make sure to harvest the blossoms too, which are considered a real delicacy here in Italy. They're hard to find in stores, because they wilt in no time at all, and their paper-thin petals tear easily. It's best to pick them early in the morning, and use them the same day: zucchini blossoms are quintessential local, seasonal and fresh produce.



Preparing zucchini blossoms


zucchini blossoms 3

Pick zucchini blossoms early in the morning, when they are fully open. You can use both the male zucchini blossoms, which grow on a stem, and the female blossoms, which grow at the end of the zucchini. Gently remove any bugs. Keep the male zucchini blossoms in water in a vase, like any other flower, and the female flowers in the fridge, on a damp paper towel in an air tight container. Cook the flowers as soon as possible, as they spoil easily.



Before cooking, remove the stem and the inside of the flower with the point of a knife (see photo).



Fried Zucchini Blossoms



Fried zucchini blossoms make a delicious hors d'oeuvre: the fresh, moist, slightly sweet petals inside, with the hot, crispy batter on the outside. A real summer treat!

fried zucchini blossom

To make them, first prepare a light beer batter. There are many ways of making it, and thousands of recipes online. My favorite is traditional and very simple: mix about 250 grams of white flour and a pinch of salt with cold beer (or fizzy water) until your batter gets thick but still pourable (about 200 ml of beer). Coat the prepared blossoms in the batter, and fry in hot oil on both sides until crisp and golden, which usually takes only a couple of minutes. Serve hot.



Summer Frittata


zucchini blossoms 2

We used our first zucchini to make a frittata (omelette). I often make frittate in summer, mixing in whatever ingredients the garden has to offer on that day, to the basic frittata recipe: eggs, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a dash of milk.


frittata

In this case, I first lightly cooked the grated zucchini together with some baby chard leaves, garlic, marjoram and summer savory. Then I added the rest of the basic frittata ingredients. Finally, halfway through cooking, I placed zucchini petals on top of the frittata, making a decorative and delicious topping.



For more on how we use zucchini blossoms and zucchini in my part of the world, see my Zucchini Time post over at my blog.


18 comments:

Ken Toney said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe. I planted my zucchini last week. I might put an extra plant or two out just for the blossoms.

Stacy (Little Blue Hen) said...

That fritatta is absolutely gorgeous.

gardenmama said...

This is really beautiful Francesca, thank you for sharing your recipe!

Amber said...

These ideas sound delicious. And they also sound like a good way to cut down on actual zucchinis, which can also be good. I enjoy zucchini, but not quite enough to eat as many as a typical zucchini plant produces.

renee @ FIMBY said...

zucchini has never looked so delicious!

Elizabeth said...

I've never been a big fan of zucchini blossoms but admit to thinking your fried ones sound delicious!

Dana said...

How decadent -- zucchini blossoms for prima colazione. . . Are you sure you are Italian? Sure beats the cafe au lait and breakfast cookies!

Diana Strinati Baur said...

Gorgeous. We are just finishing up with batter dipping the elderflowers, and now ready to start on the sage and zucchini blossoms for the next "dinner" here. Your photos are amazing. Your earth looks richer than ours. Ours is full of tufo which is great for grapes and not great for the orto. Bacioni.

Ann Flowers said...

I just recently discovered your blog and am so glad I did. What a sweet post!

AG Ambroult said...

you know I always wanted to make these, but just keep forgetting to do it? Thanks for the recipe. My family has grown used to me taking pictured of various activities. The girls even ask me to take pics of their art for m,y blog now! Off to explore more of this coop site. Just bookmarked it!

Mickle in NZ said...

Mmm - I grew zuchinni for the first time this Summer just past and I think I enjoyed cooking with the flowers most of all. Thanks for the frittata recipe - I can dream of making it next Summer from the midst of our current Winter.

denise said...

Wow - my squash are nowhere near having blossoms yet! I started them inside well over a month ago, but they only get planted out first weekend in June here. Amazing. And yummy sounding recipe.

Sense of Home said...

That fritatta is beautiful, and I appreciate the instruction on fried zucchini blossoms, I wasn't sure how they were made.

Tracey said...

I find cooking with the blossoms is a great way of harvesting *something* out of the garden when the zucchinis and pumpkins are being recalcitrant and producing mostly male flowers.

GardenMom said...

Lovely. I can't wait to try zucchini and other squash blossoms this year. That is new to me. Thanks for the step by step instructions. That is so helpful.

Kate said...

That's a great recipe, that's for posting it! Do you season the fried blossoms with anything other than salt and the beer batter? I have four zucchini plants this year, but they all seem to have male flowers so far...I haven't gotten a female yet! Good to know the males are good for something...(in the plant world, at least :)!!!)

Lasso the Moon said...

These are wonderful!!
Anna

Francesca said...

@Kate, I only use the beer batter. However, fried zucchini blossoms can also be stuffed (before you coat them in the batter) - mozzarella cheese, and anchovies are a classic stuffing: they are delicious, but the stuffing tends to overpower the rest of the flavor.