Stuffed Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil Pesto

Oh zucchini!  ”A joy in July or a joke in September!”  

Truth is, what would summer be without zucchini and tomatoes fresh from the garden?  Zucchini simply capture the green colors and flavors of summer.  When fried alone, or stuffed and fried, they are marvelous as appetizers or for a mid-morning treat!  A platter of fried or baked stuffed zucchini/squash blossoms is an everyday delight on Italian tables.

And with zucchini comes those beautiful buttery, yellow, golden blossoms that attract bees humming in bliss while stuffing themselves with pollen that blesses them from the interiors of each blossom!

To prepare garden-fresh zucchini/squash blossoms in a delicate veil of crispy batter is comparable to nothing on earth.

Fresh-picked squash blossoms from my garden this morning, ready to prepare in the kitchen!
squash/zucchini/pumpkin blossoms are pretty enough for a delicate bouquet (they won’t last longer than a few hours though!)
just a shots (above and below) of how profusely they are growing in just one portion of my garden…. you have to look very closely, because often they grown hidden underneath very large green leaves 
and yes, the plants have outgrown the garden and are well into our backyard now!
Zucchini/squash plants are similar to tomatoes . . . they have blossoms first!
Let’s just call it vegetable garden ‘flower power’!
The difference is that these lovely yellow blossoms are BIG!  Big enough to cut, open, lay flat, stuff, and FRY!  Zucchini blossoms, squash blossoms, pumpkin blossoms . . . whatever you choose to grow and/or call them, are the little beauty delicacies that for years Italians have known that they are completely edible, delicious, and very hard to come by.  Why?  They bloom only in the morning hours of your garden, and they wilt within hours.  The window of time to harvest any squash blossom, to stuff them, and to fry them is very, very small.
Thus the reason why you’ll be hard-pressed to ever find fried zucchini/squash blossoms on menus in the U.S.  Few people know of these outside of the culinary and Italian world.
Nothing poisonous, OK?  Actually, I don’t think there’s even a major taste to these blossoms.  They are just the “envelope” or “pouch” in which to stuff and fry.  What you end up tasting is the fried element of the dish as well as the stuffing.  So please don’t fear . . . try this . . . it’s fun, and so yummy!
  
zucchini/squash blossoms play a little game of ‘find me’ every morning under the huge plant leaves
 just another shot of a platter of blossoms below showing you how they will CLOSE up within a few hours of harvest.  you have very little time to prepare them to eat.  sure, you can still dunk these in the batter, but they will be round instead of flat . . . the flavor alone will not be changed.

Here’s the link to my original post to learn about the very first method of using zucchini/pumpkin/squash blossoms . . . . frying them only.  It is known in Italy has ‘pastella’, frying in a light ‘tempura-like’ batter that ends up in crispy, non-greasy fritters:   Zucchini Blosssoms Fried in Pastella (Fiori di Zucchini Fritti in Pastella)

once you harvest your blossoms, bring them into the kitchen, no need to rinse them down if they’re clean and bug-free . . . just take a pair of kitchen shears, cut off the stems and stamens, make one length-wise slit and open them up to lay them flat
when working with zucchini/squash blossoms, I prefer to use parchment paper so that they don’t stick to a metal pan
 this year’s blossoms are HUGE!
on the stove in a pan, saute’ in canola oil, the onion, garlic, prosciutto, herbs, and basil
blend the cheeses with the sautéed mixture
place about a tablespoon of the cheese/prosciutto/herb mixture on one end of each of the opened blossoms.
at this point, if you choose to place an anchovy inside, this is when you do that.
continue to place this mixture on all of the opened blossoms.
work quickly, they wilt fast!
from the stuffing end, roll the blossoms up GENTLY, they break easily 
pinch the open top ends of the stuffed blossoms; aren’t they pretty?
.
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Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil Pesto (Fiori di Zucca Fritti)

For the stuffing:

1 Tbsp. canola oil for sautéing
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small – medium sweet (Vidalia) onion, minced
1/2 – 2/3 cup prosciutto, chopped
1 tsp. garden-fresh oregano, minced

1 tsp. garden-fresh thyme, minced

2 tsp. garden-fresh basil, freshly minced, or 1 tsp. dried basil
2 Tbsp. garden-fresh Italian parsley, minced

1/2  pound ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly-grated Italian Parmigianno-Regianno cheese (or Asiago)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
anchovies (optional: 1 per blossom)
1/2 pound garden-fresh spinach, washed, stems removed, finely chopped (optional – if you want spinach, add to the the original sauté mixture and cook it down until all liquid is involved)
15 – 30 zucchini/squash blossoms, freshly picked, rinsed in cold water, stamens and stems removed

In a large heavy pan, sauté’ the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened.
Add prosciutto, and all of the herbs.
Remove from stove and add this to all of the cheeses.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cut off stems and any green end of the blossoms.
Cut a slit through in between two blossom petals and open up each blossom to lay them flat on a platter or piece of parchment paper.
Remove the stamen.
Place a spoonful of filling in each blossom.
Roll up each stuffed blossom and press edges together.
Be careful not to let any filling ooze out of the blossoms.
May be refrigerated at this point for one day or fried right away.

Batter:

1 cup water
2/3 cup flour
Note:  Some cooks add an egg yolk as well as some baking soda/powder.  I think that this is a good idea and will make your batter a little thicker if you like.

Put one (1) cup of water in a wide soup bowl and gradually add the flour through a sifter and CONSTANTLY beat the mixture with a fork until all the flour is added. The batter will have a consistency of sour cream.

Tomato Sauce (or use your favorite Marinara sauce):

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 large garden-fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional0

Saute onion in olive oil.
Add tomatoes, wine and tomato paste.
Cook uncovered, for about 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing mixture to cook until reduced and slightly thickened.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix together all ingredients.

Pesto:

Use your own favorite brand or the recipe on this blog by clicking on this link for “Fresh Basil Pesto”.

gently place each rolled up stuffed blossom in the batter and coat well
place all of the battered stuffed blossoms on a platter ready for frying 
in very fresh, clean, and HOT canola oil, fry the blossoms until golden . . . 
do not overcrowd them or let them stick to the bottom of the pan
immediately after blossoms are fried to a beautiful golden color, place them on a platter with double paper towels to soak up any extra frying oil.
this is not a heavy batter, it is more like a Japanese tempura, very light

To prepare and fry:

Pat the blossoms thoroughly dry after harvestiing (they will most likely have some morning dew on the petals) . . . be gentle, they break easily.
If necessary, clean the zucchini blossoms with a gentle rinse of cold running water.
Pat gently to thoroughly dry on paper towels . . . careful, they break easily.
Cut off the stems.
Cut the base off of the blossom, cut one slit and then OPEN UP the blossom to be able to lay flat.

Pour vegetable or canola oil (not olive oil!!!) in a skillet up two 3/4 of the height of the pan sides.
In a large, wide heavy pan (or wok) heat the oil to the hottest you can without burning the oil – the temperature at which a drop of batter will drop below the surface, but then quickly pop back up to the surface.
When the oil is very hot, carefully dip each of blossoms into the batter, coat evenly.
Carefully place the battered blossoms in the hot oil.
Slip in only as many blossoms that will fit loosely into the skillet.
When a golden crust has formed on one side of the blossoms, turn them over to fry on all other sides until golden, about 3 – 5 minutes.
Watch the blossoms carefully.
Do not overcook.
Do not crowd any of the blossoms in the pan.
When all sides have a lovely golden brown crust lift out with a slotted spoon.
Place the hot fried blossoms on several thick layers of paper towels to drain, blotting with more paper towels or linen towels if necessary.
Sprinkle with freshly cracked sea salt before they are dry.
Serve hot immediately (with or without tomato sauce).
Dollop or drizzle small amounts of fresh basil pesto all over platter of the fried blossoms for a pretty presentation.

a beautiful presentation on fresh tomato sauce and dollops of fresh basil pesto sauce!

 

Your comments make me smile and I promise to get back to you. I may be slow at it because I get easily distracted by something brewing in the kitchen or hummingbirds in my gardens.

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Comments

  1. BEAUTIFULL. I love your light batter and the flavoursome filling. In the UK shops do not sell zucchini flowers so I have to grow my own flowers!! Great pictures Roz and an exciting recipe, thank you for sharing!!

  2. Very pretty! I’ve never had them but they do look like a nice treat-enjoy:@)

  3. Dennis at A Culinary Journey With Chef Dennis frequently makes these and like his, yours look delicious, but I’ve never tried them. I’ll save this and next year rather than letting all of those male blooms go to waste, I’ll give this a try, especially since they are “…comparable to nothing on earth.” :-)

  4. Delicious, unfortunately our plants have not done well this year, so not may such treats for us.

  5. What a fine appetizer! Can’t find zucchini blossoms in the stores here…bet the filling would be perfect to fill some baby zucchinis too.

  6. wow the memories of grandma and fried zucchini flowers brings me way back into my childhood. These gourmet style take the cake over anything I have ever seen of eaten just lovely lovely lovely!

  7. Look at all of those gorgeous squash blossoms. You have been truly blessed Roz.
    Sam

  8. Your garden is doing wnoderful this year! I love squash blossoms but have never tried to stuffed them. My garden isn’t doing well this year so I won’t be able to try these … I’ll be right over to sample some of yours :)

    Jo

  9. I have always wanted to try squash blossoms! Your photos are gorgeous and make me want to try them even more! anne

  10. I’ve never tried these, but you make them look so good! I love your photos!

  11. Roz, you are a wealth of knowledge! These look absolutely fantastic…and after your detailed instructions, I think I could make these delicious numbers :)

    PS…my first and only time eating fried zucchini blossoms was in Cortona, Italy. Did I ever tell you my mom taught calligraphy there to students from U Georgia studying abroad for 3 summers? I visited my parents there one year…the food was unbelievable!

  12. Oh my, you have a bounty of blossoms indeed. They are so beautiful heaped up on the plate, and of course irresistible stuffed and fried.

  13. wow these look divine and you sure do have plenty ;-)

  14. Your zucchini blossoms are so pretty! I’d like to grow zucchini just for the blossoms. They’re so delicious stuffed and fried.

  15. Truly a work of Art in the Italian history background… this look beyond words.

  16. I’ve never thought Zucchini flowers can be edible. A new discovery for me. Thanks for sharing. This is so cool.
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  17. I love how you’ve somehow made these both fried and totally fresh-flavored! The best of both worlds.

  18. Look beautiful but the amazing is the pictures too Rozz look really nice!

  19. Rita,
    Zucchini flowers/blossoms are not sold in the USA markets either. We need to grow our own as well and also benefit from them too!

  20. Oh Lynn, if you ever grow some zucchini, squash or pumpkins, you’ve got to harvest the blossoms and try this!

  21. Larry, nice to know that a ‘chef’ has finally figured out this age-old Italian traditional recipe!

  22. Lindy, I understand! Every year’s gardens differ. This year our tomatoes weren’t as sweet and our peppers produced only 10 peppers max! Weird!

  23. Angie, you got that right! Zucchini blossoms never make the markets . . . they wilt too soon!

  24. Claudia,

    Your words are exactly what my mother said, “I remember my Italian grandmother making these!” Such a summer treat, huh?

  25. Sam, yes! Blessed with zucchini blossoms this year, but bummer pepper plant harvest! Ya just never know what Mother Nature will provide, huh?!

  26. Jo,
    You can come on over anytime, my friend. Your mouth will be amazed at the burst of flavors in these little delicate blossom pockets!

  27. Anne,
    Jump right in a pick those fresh zucchini/squash/pumpkin blossoms in your garden. These are a treat that you won’t ever find in a grocery store or market!

  28. Ellen, hopefully you’ll be able to try these someday. . . they are truly a seasonal specialty that you’ll drool over!

  29. Liz, you’ve got me beat! I’ve only enjoyed fried zucchini blossoms (whether stuffed or not stuffed) in the States and would LOVE to try them in Italy such as you have been fortunate to have enjoyed! Thanks for your kind comment and for always stopping by! xoxoxo Roz

  30. Linda, I have no idea why this year was so such a huge bounty of blossoms! But I assure you, they were enjoyed immensely! Thanks for your comment and for your stopping by!
    Ciao, ciao amica!
    Roz

  31. Rebeccah,
    You’ll soon have a good plenty of zucchini blossoms in that young garden of yours too and I’m sure that you’ll be trying this recipe or technique too!

  32. Lisa,
    Thanks so much. You’re ‘spot-on’ correct!
    Hugs,
    Roz

  33. Curt,
    That means a lot coming from you! You would know the accuracy of Italian culinary tradition!

  34. These are absolutely stunning!!

  35. Mia,
    What a pleasure to know that I helped someone learn something new in the culinary world. I hope that you try this someday and enjoy. Thanks for stopping by with your sweet comment!

  36. Hi Joanne,
    Either way, stuffed or not, fried zucchini blossoms are incredible!

  37. Thank you so much Gloria. It’s always a pleasure when you stop by!

  38. Roz: Those zucchini blossoms are a treat for the eyes! Our favorite farmer at Saturday’s market had zucchini blossoms. Now I’m hoping she’ll have some this Saturday.

    There isn’t really a recipe for my corn soup. The way I “put it together” is in paragraph four of my blog. I just experimented a little and kept tasting. Alas, the one bowl that was leftover (for the cook) was eaten by my husband so I don’t know how it was on day two!!

    Best,
    Bonnie

  39. Hi Rosalinda, your blog site is very very nice, there are a lot of interisting information and receipts… also Italian ones! :-)
    Your garden is marvelleous, and what can I say about your blossoms?! They are simply perfect!
    I will visit your pages very often because I have to improve my English about food… :-)
    See you soon!
    Ilaria

  40. Bonnie,

    That is AMAZING that your famers’ market has zucchini blossoms! I’d buy up a big batch!

  41. Ilaria,

    Thanks for stopping by and I’ll visit your site to in order to improve my Italian and learn more of your great recipes too!

  42. Hey Belinda, Thanks so MUCh! Nice to hear from you again and for your visit to my blog!

  43. I return to leave a comment on this post, because when I read your comment on my zucchini flowers I thought the same thing ‘next time I want to try a lighter batter like Roz’s recipe’. Your batter’s recipe seems to be more delicate than the recipe which my mum uses. I’ll give it a try!

  44. Rita,

    Let me know what you think. I like a more heavy batter, but for these I tried the lighter batter. Look at the batter that I used for regular fried (not stuffed) zucchini (there is a link to it in this post). Tell me what you think.
    Grazie, Roz

  45. che invidia! no zucchini flowers over here, and think that I come from Rome and am addicted to them… send me some :)

  46. Cheese stuffed fried zucchini blossoms recipe is excellent. It is very tasty dish

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