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Savoring the Beautiful Zucchini Flowers

The eye-catching, yellow/orange colored flowers growing before your zucchini comes up are not only beautiful – they’re delicious. Zucchini flowers, also known as squash blossoms, are a delightful summer yield that most planters mistakenly discard thinking they are inedible or confused about what they are. Not to worry, we have compiled tasty recipes that make the most of this seasonal specialty. Zucchini flowers, or fiori di zucca in Italian, are only in season for a short period mid-summer, so now is the time to pluck them from your garden or purchase them from your local farmers market. The blossoms wilt and spoil quickly, so if you are picking them from your garden, be sure to use them that day. At markets, look for blossoms with green, moist stems that haven not dried out and bright flowers that have not started to wilt. The most common way to prepare zucchini flowers is simply to flour or bread them and fry, yet there are plenty of other ways to enjoy this summer specialty. Below are recipes that are sure to make zucchini flowers your new favorite summer food item.

Pappardelle with Zucchini Flowers

pappadelle-zucchini
Ingredients Preparation
  • good Italian olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • leaves from 10 sprigs italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 12 zucchini blossoms, quartered from stem to tip
  • salt
  • 6 saffron threads
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade (see note above)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ lb. pappardelle
  • pecorino romano, finely grated
Put a large pot of salted water over high heat for the pasta.

In a large skillet, warm a splash of olive oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the red onion, celery, carrot, and parsley, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent. Add the zucchini blossoms, a pinch or two of salt, and the saffron, and stir gently to mix. Add about ¾ cup of broth, and stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the rest of the broth a splash or two at a time, taking about 5-8 min to add it all. Stir frequently. Allow the sauce to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and only a thin film of thickened broth remains in the pan. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk slightly with a fork.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. When the pasta is almost ready, place the zucchini blossom sauce back over medium heat. Use a small measuring cup to scoop up about 3 Tbs of pasta water and, whisking constantly with a fork, gradually add the hot water to the egg yolk: together, they should make a loose, pale yellow liquid. Pour this mixture into the sauce in the skillet, stirring well. Using tongs or a spider, scoop the finished pasta from its pot into the skillet, and toss with the sauce over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Serve topped with grated Pecorino.

Crab-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

crab-zucchini
Ingredients Preparation
  • 8 ounces crabmeat
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraiche
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives, divided
  • salt and white pepper
  • 12 large zucchini flowers, stems removed
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ tablespoon dijon mustard
  • ½ tablespoon whole grain mustard
Combine the crabmeat, crème fraîche, lemon juice and zest, and 1 tbsp chives in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Using a small spoon or a piping bag, gently stuff each zucchini flower three-quarters full with the crab mixture.

In a heavy small saucepan over medium heat, place 1 tbsp water and whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until the all of the butter is emulsified. Whisk in both mustards and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set the butter sauce aside and keep warm.

Place a large pot filled with 2 inches of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Place the stuffed zucchini flowers in a steamer insert, then set the steamer in the pot. Cover and steam until the crab filling is hot, about 3 min.

Place 3 zucchini flowers on each of 4 plates. Stir the chives into the mustard butter sauce, spoon the sauce over and around the stuffed flowers and serve immediately.

Chicken Saltimbocca with Zucchini Flowers

saltimboca-zucchini
Ingredients Preparation
  • 12 zucchini blossoms, stems removed
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
Gently rinse and dry zucchini blossoms.

Place each chicken breast between two 12-inch squares of parchment paper; using mallet, pound chicken to 1/4- to 1/3-inch thickness. Remove chicken from parchment paper and cut each breast in half lengthwise.

Season chicken with salt and pepper; top each with 3 zucchini blossoms. Wrap each chicken breast with 2 prosciutto slices, using toothpick to secure prosciutto and blossoms.

Melt butter with olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, blossom side down, and sauté until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Add white wine and continue cooking until wine is reduced and thickens slightly, about 2 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken to serving platter. Remove toothpicks and pour sauce over chicken.

Zucchini Flower Cheese Bread

zucchini-bread
Ingredients: Preparation
  • 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 packet Fleischmann’s pizza yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup very warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for topping
  • 6-8 squash blossoms
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ cup mozzarella
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine 1 cup of the flour, the entire packet of yeast, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the water and the oil and mix for about a minute.

Slowly add more flour until a soft dough ball is formed. Use a dough hook to knead the dough for a couple of minutes. If you do not have one, knead the dough ball for about 4 min on a floured surface. Roll the dough as thin as you like. Transfer it to a greased baking sheet.

Wash the squash blossoms and cut them in half. Grate the Parmigiano and mozzarella. Add the chopped garlic to a little olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons). Spread the olive oil and garlic on top of the dough. Add both cheeses, the blossoms, and then a little more cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 min.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

zucchini-flowers-stuffed
Ingredients: Preparation
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 large zucchini blossoms
  • Olive oil or canola oil for frying
In a bowl, stir together the cheese, the 1 1/2 tsp. parsley and the basil. Season with salt and pepper. Scrape the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. In a small, shallow bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Spread the flour on a plate.Gently wipe the zucchini blossoms with damp paper towels and carefully remove the stamens. Gently spread each flower open, insert the tip of the pastry bag and pipe about 1 Tbs. of the ricotta mixture into the blossom. Do not overfill the blossoms or the filling may seep out as they cook. Roll each blossom in the flour, then in the eggs and again in the flour, gently shaking off the excess each time.

Preheat an oven to 200°F. Line a platter with paper towels.

In a heavy fry pan, pour in oil to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer.

Add the zucchini blossoms, a few at a time, to the hot oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Fry the blossoms, turning once, until lightly golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the blossoms to the paper towel-lined platter to drain and place in the oven to keep warm. Allow the oil to return to 375°F between batches. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.


Zucchini-Wrapped Sea Bass, Tomato, Pine Nuts & Steamed Zucchini Flowers

zucchini-sea-bass

Ingredients Preparation
  • 2 zucchini
  • Fine sea salt, for sprinkling
  • 2 x 4 1/2 ounces sea bass fillets, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 medium potato, peeled, diced and boiled until tender
  • 1 tomato, quartered, seeds removed and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons currants, soaked in warm water, then drained
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 tablespoon basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 zucchini flowers
  • Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Take one zucchini, top and tail it, then thinly slice on a mandolin lengthways. You should get 12 good long strips. Lay these side by side on a tray, sprinkle with the salt and let stand for 8 minutes to draw out the moisture, which will make it easier to wrap the fish in. Rinse off the salt. Layer 6 slices lengthways side by side slightly overlapping onto a tea towel and pat dry. Repeat with the remaining slices. Now a John Dory has three pieces in one fillet. Fold the pieces lengthways like a little parcel, then place in the middle of the zucchini ribbons. Using the tea towel as a guide, carefully lift and wrap the zucchini around the fish, then place, seam side down, onto a tray.

Heat a skillet over high heat, add 3 teaspoons of the olive oil and place the zucchini-wrapped fish, seam side down, into the pan and pan fry for 2 minutes. Turn them over, turn down the heat and fry the presentation side for 3 minutes. Carefully take out of the pan and place on a baking sheet. Wash the pan.

Now dice the remaining zucchini (and any left-over fish scraps). Place the clean pan over high heat, add the rest of the oil and heat for 1-2 min. When hot, add the diced zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium, add the potato and tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Add the currants, pine nuts and wine, turn up the heat to high and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Take off the heat, add the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Put to the side.

Put the tray of zucchini-wrapped John Dory in the oven for 10 min. Steam the zucchini flowers for 2-3 minutes. To serve, divide the zucchini mixture between plates. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish. Place on the plates, lay the zucchini flowers on top and drizzle with olive oil.



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