If you grow your own zucchini and don’t take full advantage by battering and frying up the flowers, then I’m afraid we can’t be friends. To squander such opportunity is pretty much unforgivable, because they are so damn good. Shockingly, some people grow zucchini for the fruit that it produces, they let that fruit grow to maturity, and then they eat that fruit and nothing else. I know, right?! Such misguided souls.
I’m kidding, of course – but not completely. Yes, we can still be friends, even if you have zucchini flowers going to waste. In fact, I would love to be your friend; I would also love to spend some time in your garden with a pair of clippers, righting your wrongs…
I’m only slightly kidding about my shock at people eating the fruit over the flower. Zucchini is one of those foods that I’ve only recently started eating, and honestly still dislike. Part of it’s texture, part of it’s taste. I’m a fan of neither. Though, if we’re being honest, part of it is probably that my wife is convinced I’ll eventually like it. If I give her the satisfaction of knowing I’ve been converted into a zucchini enthusiast, then there’s no telling what other fruits and vegetables she’ll push on me.
The flowers are by far the best part of the plant; stuffing the flowers with cheese, dipping them in batter, and frying them up – that’s the best way to eat them. I mean, I’m sure there are other great ways of eating them, but why take the risk when I’m telling you how awesome this is? Please, just trust me on this one.
I actually harvested the flowers for this dish from a friend’s garden. You’re supposed to pick them in the morning while the flowers are open – I think it helps ensure they’re the better ones for harvesting. Being as I’m on summer break, I wasn’t even close to waking up early enough for that. As such, I think some of the flowers I chose were a bit more difficult to work with. I don’t really know what I’m talking about though – this was my first time harvesting any part of a zucchini. What I do know is that they were somewhat difficult to work with, but completely worth it.
I made a small batch (9 flowers), and ended up with leftover batter and a tiny bit of leftover cheese. I’m adjusting the proportions in recipe to make up for that fact, but I have yet to test it myself with these numbers. Essentially, I’ve added 50% more cheese and lemon juice than I actually used, assuming these quantities will allow for the batter to be completely used up by the time you get around to the last flower. I fried up 7 male flowers and 2 females, the latter being attached to immature fruit (which were added deliciousness). Though it was my first time cooking any type of flower myself, and they were oftentimes finicky, the end result was definitely worth the trouble. Enough talk, though – on to the recipe!
Lemon Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
- 15 zucchini flowers, rinsed and dried, stamens removed
- 3/4 cup ricotta
- zest of 1 lemon
- 4 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 cup beer (lager or pilsner, I used Stella Artois)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- vegetable oil, for frying
- Start heating the oil in a pan over medium heat. You’ll be frying in batches, so use a small/medium pan and about a 1cm thick layer of oil.
- Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Pour in the beer and whisk until most clumps are gone.
- Mix the ricotta, lemon zest, and lemon juice together in a bowl. By this time, you’re ready for stuffing the flowers.
- Carefully take a zucchini flower, open it up as much as you can without tearing, and add roughly 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp. of the cheese mixture to the middle of the flower. Twist the end of the flower to help keep in the cheese, then set aside. Repeat with 2-3 more flowers, setting each aside as you go. If your flowers do tear, sometimes it can actually help make the stuffing easier. A single tear to the stem isn’t a major problem.
- Dip the stuffed flowers into the batter, coating fully, then place in the pan with the hot oil. If there is a tear in the flower, make sure it is tightly twisted closed before dipping, and that you place the flower in the oil with the tear facing down (the frying quickly creates a seal, trapping any ricotta that would have leaked out).
- Fry the flowers for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking process. Remove to a plate covered in paper towel, and dap any excess oil from the flowers.
- Repeat the frying process until all the ingredients are used up.
- Devour these bad boys while they’re still hot, or arrange into a bouquet and give them to your significant other…after which they will proceed to devour them.
Makes 15 zucchini flowers
I’m bringing these flowers over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday after a tiny hiatus. The cohosts this week are Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Jess @ Cooking is My Sport. If you haven’t checked out this little blogging party, then I highly recommend you do. If you have already, then you already know it’s full of great meal ideas from some talented home cooks.