Traditional recipes

Fried Zucchini Flowers

Fried Zucchini Flowers

As Beppino always loved to show me, both the female and the male zucchini produce flowers and they are easy to distinguish. In either case, check the flowers on the inside for bugs before starting, and always remove the pistil, which tastes bitter.

Click here to see An Italian Cookbook with Heart and Soul.

Ingredients

For the batter

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons plain white flour
  • 2/3 Cups milk, or half milk and half water mixed together

For the zucchini flowers

  • 2 1/2 Cups scant sunflower oil
  • 12-16 zucchini flowers, pistils removed
  • 4-5 Tablespoons ricotta or 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 4-inch cubes (optional)
  • 6-8 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and cut into 1/4-inch lengths (optional)
  • Sea salt, to taste

Servings4

Calories Per Serving61

Folate equivalent (total)10µg3%


Fried Zucchini Blossoms

A quick dip in a simple batter and another dip in hot oil makes a classic Italian summer treat of delicately fried zucchini blossoms. We've included instructions for stuffing them with cheese, with is definitely a classic choice. Feel free to stuff the flowers with a teaspoon or two of fresh goat cheese or ricotta, if you like. You can really guild the lily by stirring a tablespoon or two of minced fresh herbs like mint, parsley, or basil into the cheese.

We tend to skip all of that, letting the zucchini blossoms soldier on alone, getting wonderfully crispy on the outside and flower-tender on the inside.

You can find zucchini blossoms at many farmers markets. They should be used as soon after picking as possible.


Classic Italian Fried Zucchini Flowers Recipe

Few places do fried food to the level of Rome. When you travel to Italy, you, like us, will likely fall in love with the street food and snacks be it focacc.

Few places do fried food to the level of Rome.

When you travel to Italy, you, like us, will likely fall in love with the street food and snacks be it focaccia in Genoa or granita in Sicily.

But the fried foods reign supreme when it comes to eating in Rome. From the suppli to the Animelle fritte (sweetbreads), and the Carciofi alla giudia (fried artichokes) to (our fave) fried zucchini blossoms, it's hard to cross a menu that doesn't have at least one thing fried.

We've long stuffed zucchini blossoms with ricotta (blended with herbs and lemon zest) but this way, with mozzarella and anchovies, is bold and unapologetic, a lot like Rome.

Okay, now it's time to stock up your panty with all the Italian essential ingredients , then try your hand at baking this and then share your creation with us by tagging @ saltandwind and #swsociety on social!


Fried Squash Blossoms

When summer is here and our gardens are beginning to come alive it’s wonderful to take in the bounty of what nature has to offer. If you love to grow veggies then you may already know this, but one of the “pre-game” perks of growing zucchini is that even before the fruits are ready you can enjoy the blossoms. Yes, zucchini are technically fruit since they come from flowers (just like tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, and pumpkins to name a few other mislabeled vegetables).

If you’re growing zucchini then look for the male flowers in spring and early summer depending on where you live. These are flowers that don’t have a small fruit attached to them and since they won’t bear fruit you can safely use them without disturbing the growing pattern of your plants. Leave some of the male flowers so that the other flowers can be still pollinated. The fruit-bearing flowers are also edible, but will reduce your zucchini harvest if eaten before they fruit.

These large, yellowy-orange blossoms have a unique flavor. It’s hard to describe but it’s a freshness that tastes green and vaguely like zucchini but with a light texture unlike any other “veggies” you’ll come across. When battered and fried the crispy coating makes the perfect compliment to the refreshing flowers inside. This dish is popular in Italy (called fiori di zucca), but has been a staple in rural areas in the US for generations as well.

What to do if you don’t have a garden? Asking a friend who does if they can share their blossoms would be easiest, but you can also sometimes find squash blossoms at farmer’s markets or other smaller produce shops. They are highly perishable though, so make them as as possible after picking or buying yours.

To make this recipe you start by removing the pistil inside and gently rinsing the blossoms before placing on a paper towel. Then mix up the batter which is just flour, salt, water, and a little milk. You want a batter that’s just thick enough to coat each blossom, but no thicker. If you need to thin it out add a 1 teaspoon of water at a time, but try not to over-mix. Some people like to use sparkling water instead of still, but we’ve found that it’s not necessary at all.

Then heat up your oil. You only need about 1/2 inch of oil to fry these flowers up nicely. Using 2 forks dip each flower in the batter until they’re coated evenly. Fry until golden brown on each side or 2 minutes total.

Many people like to serve these blossoms with a side of warmed marinara to dip in, but this is optional. I like them both plain and with sauce. For a variation you can also stuff a little mozzarella or ricotta inside each blossom before frying for a delectable take on this simple classic.


Chopped and lightly cooked in a bit of butter, zucchini blossoms make an excellent filling (with a bit of mild cheese) to a zucchini blossom omelet. Not up for making an omelet? Just stir them into some scrambled eggs. This filling is so tasty, we've been known to even serve it all on its own as a side dish—but that only happens when the blossoms are coming is fast and furious and I can hardly use them up fast enough!


    1. Whisk flour into beer or soda to make batter.
    2. Dip blossoms in batter to thinly coat.
    3. Fry blossoms in a saucepan, 2 or 3 at a time, in 1 inch of hot (375°F) oil.
    4. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

    I like to make these stuffed with Robiola cheese (it's very similar to regular cream cheese) seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

    These were pretty delicious, I gave four because it was so easy. I was worried about frying in oil but the batter really clung to the blossoms and there was no splatter during the frying (I was careful to make sure there was no water on anything. I used the female flowers and it was fine.

    To add a little bit more flavor, I add a little paprika and pepper. It was really good. I strongly suggest people do this.

    Easy to make and fun! I was actually really surprised this came out so well, but the batter was just the right consistency. I miss Italy this summer and this recipe helps! p.s. We used the extra batter to make onion rings - also a success.

    These are great and simple way to have the instant Italy memories. I added salt and pepper to the batter and finished with a little salt. Divine. Makes the early morning at the farmer's market a real must-do to find these blossoms. I used canola oil but really was patient and waited until it was really really hot.

    Contrary to purists- I used female flowers and they were still attached to a baby zucchini (maybe 3-4 inches long). They were very tasty. I opted to use a dark beer in the batter for more flavor. I sprinkled the blossoms with salt and finished them with freshly grated parmesan cheese. I would make them again.

    this was really tasty. I stuffed them with a mixture of pesto and ricotta. It was super delicious. I found that sprinkling a fair amount of salt right when they were done really helped.

    a simple recipe and delicious! I added a bit of salt and white pepper to the batter. We were sorry we didn't have more blossoms.

    Made this recipe last week with my 11-13 year old students in our Italian Trattoria class. We stuffed them with Ricotta,egg,Parmesan,scallion, salt and pepper. They were heavenly.

    Wow. I just popped the last one into my mouth. Having read other cooks' comments and surveyed some friends, here's what I did: Trimmed the blossoms with about an inch of stem for easy handling. Stuffed with a mixture of: half fresh ricotta, half roasted ricotta (a fabulous offering at our local cheese shop I would have also used ricotta salata), oregano, and a sliver of anchovy. Twisted the ends closed. Dipped in egg, then in a the beer batter (which we made with Boddington's). Fried in a mixture of olive and canola oil. As they drained on paper towels, I grated a little parmesan over. Fantastic. The only change I'll make next time is to cut back on the anchovy just a little.

    I love this recipe, but it is very important to get the oil hot enough - the first few I tried were a bit limp and therefore not as good as the crispier bunch I made later. Also, they taste great dipped in a bit of marinara.

    My new son-in-law and I made this for the first time at a holiday dinner for company! It is a no-brainer to make and drew oohs and ahhs from our guests both for the presentation and the taste.We used Rolling Rock beer and followed the recipe removing nothing. We used a slotted spoon to turn and remove them so the crust would not get damaged and the batter wouldn't fall off. and we used Peanut oil because of its high flash point. MMMM good! They had the blossoms in my local supermarket. Next time we are going to stuff them.

    Tried this with blossoms fresh out of the garden, 3-6". (Wash the flowers carefully if snails are in your area.) Following the discussion used egg wash, but the batter did not adhere in frying. Maybe a better grade beer than MGD is a good idea, and I would definitely add salt & pepper to flour/beer mixture. Zucchinis have a marvelous nutty flavor far distinct from everyday zuke and my thought are this is definitely a process to experiment with. Of the 4 made, only the blossom on the largest was less than scrumptious (M/F? I don't know). I will use olive oil, not canola, next time.

    The blossom were ok like this. My Italian Grandmother recommended her method - dip the blossoms in an egg wash, salt and pepper them, and coat them simply in a flour, baking powder, and light parmesan mixture and then fry them in olive oil. Add a little more S & P before serving --- I had some homemade marinara sauce on hand - dipped them in there after frying them and that was great too. I tried pancake batter too with parmesan for the batter and they were just as tasty!

    I had something similar in Italy . the batter was thicker, but this was much lighter. Great with raw veggies as an appetizer.

    For my first ever time cooking and eating these delights, we took the original recipe and modified. We used an egg wash first, followed by the recommended batter/frying method. We used a German wheat beer, and needed 1 cup to make the batter thin enought to use. This really gave depth to the taste. Really easy. I look forward to stuffing them now with other delights.

    I haven't made this particular recipe, but one just like it. I stuff the blossom with a piece of mozzerella cheese and a small piece of anchovy before dipping it in the batter and frying. Just make sure to twist the top as closed as it will stay while you are dipping it in the batter. It is absolutely delicious. Even supposedly non-anchovy eaters love this (the anchovy melts and just adds a little salty kick).

    This is a fair recipe but my mother used to make these blossoms for us when we were kids. You can use pumpkin, squash or zucchini flowers. She always used an egg wash on the blossoms, covered them in cracker crumbs and fried them in oleo. MOM'S RECIPE IS MUCH BETTER. TRY IT.

    Ok, I'm not exactly a vegetable person, but I live in CA and went all the way over to Italy for the summer, and I decided to start trying new things. So, I got fried filled zuchinni blossoms and they were SSSSOOOOOOOOOOO good. Yeah, I know, darn! these aren't filled but at least i know that the italian ones were filled with RICCOTTA CHEESE and SPINACH! so, I'll just try different ratios and mixtures with the filling, but at least now I know how to fry them! P.S. I haven't tried these yet, I'm just excited that I found out how to fry them.

    This is one of my favorite recipes. If you can't find flowers, you can use zucchini cut into quarters lengthwise and the batter is still great. Salt them well.

    To the cook in Canada..you don't need to look for blooms in the market. Just put two or three squash plants among your flowers in the garden and you will have a great supply. You can easily grow either zucchini or yellow summer squash without any special care.

    A wonderful old Italian tradition that should carry on for years to come! Have even made them with "Bisquick" batter when I had no flour & they were great. just maintain the thinner cosistency. Also try stuffing a small piece of fontina cheese inside. mmm! Great @ cocktail parties. always a pleaser & conversation grabber!

    I dont know who have time ,looking for flours in the market. If I try this recepie it would be in the restaurant.


    Italian Recipe: Fried Zucchini Flowers

    Note: Any leftover pastella? Do not throw away. Pour it in the hot oil and fry it–delicious!

    Like ISDA on Facebook to receive more Italian-American culture, food & wine and entertainment news.

    Share

    Written By

    Rossella Rago, Cooking with Nonna

    Image Credit

    Share your favorite recipe, and we may feature it on our website.

    Join the conversation, and share recipes, travel tips and stories.


    HOW DO YOU PREPARE ZUCCHINI FLOWERS?

    1. Open each flower completely to make sure there’s no dirt (or bug! I warned you!) inside.
    2. Gently wash the flowers and place them on a clean kitchen towel to dry (4-5 minutes).
    3. Make the batter by combining eggs, flour (or glutinous rice flour for GF eaters), milk, and salt. The batter should be slightly thick but still runny (not as runny as milk or water though, more like a crepe batter but slightly thicker). Feel free to adjust the amount of milk and flour (or glutinous rice flour) if necessary.
    4. Fry in hot oil until soft and golden brown.

    Fried Zucchini Flowers Recipe

    This Italian recipe comes from my blogging friend Robin of My Melange, whose photos of this delicious recipe are almost making me drool on my keyboard. No joke.

    I had never even heard of frying a zucchini blossom, until I arrived in Italy that is. In fact, the thought of it left me somewhat indifferent. Thought it was a little weird.

    But one night in Rome cured me of that indifference. I sat al fresco at a little neighborhood trattoria on the Piazza Farnese and our cameriere informed me that fried zucchini blossoms were a special on the menu that evening.

    And somehow, the possibility of trying them, the way real Italians do, intrigued me. You know what they say, “When in Rome…”

    Italians are famous for using all-natural, in-season ingredients and using every fruit, vegetable or animal in its entirety.

    Zucchini is no exception.

    The flesh can be used in pasta dishes, tossed into salads or sauteed with onions in a tomato sauce. The blossoms can be found throughout Italy and are usually fried. Each region has its own preparation. The south tends to fry them as-is, while Tuscany typically stuffs and then fries.

    The stuffing varies. Fillings may include fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf, ricotta and herbs, or perhaps an anchovy or slice of prosciutto. There are differences in the batter as well. Some use an egg and others find egg makes the batter too heavy for the delicate petals.

    Experiment. Try different things. Because no matter which batter you use, which stuffing you choose or which way you fry ’em – you’ll be surprised how deliciously light and addictive they are!

    Here is my quick and easy recipe for Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms.

    Fiori di Zucchini Ripieni

    Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

    Ingredients
    Filling

    • ricotta cheese
    • chives, minced
    • parsley, finely chopped
    • nutmeg
    • salt
    • black pepper
    • To prepare the flowers, clean out dirt or insects from the inside of flowers and remove the stamen. Gently rinse them one-at-a-time and pat dry on towels, being careful not to damage the delicate petals. Cut any long stems to 1 inch.
    • Put vegetable oil in a heavy bottom cast iron frying pan- about 1 inch deep. Heat oil to 360-365 degrees on a candy thermometer.
    • In a bowl, combine a good amount of ricotta and the remainder of filling ingredients to taste. Mix well.
    • Fill a pastry bag (a zip-lock bag with the corner snipped-off would be fine as well) with the cheese mixture.
    • Slowly and gently, squeeze a small amount of the filling into each flower (don’t overfill) and twist the ends of flower closed. Place one-by-one on a plate.
    • In a large bowl, whisk flour, club soda and salt until combined. Add more club soda to thin if needed and form a thin crepe-like batter.
    • As soon as the oil is at the desired temperature, gently dip each blossom into the batter. Coat completely. Let the excess batter drain off and place into the hot oil (please be careful not to burn yourself as the hot oil could splatter).
    • Repeat with each blossom. Work in small batches of 3-4 blossoms at a time. No more than that in the pan, or the oil temp will drop too much and your blossoms will be soggy, not crisp.
    • Let each blossom fry for 30- 60 seconds and then turn with a small wire strainer. Fry on the other side until golden in color. Remove with the wire strainer, let drain and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
    • Season each while still hot with additional salt.
    • Continue until all blossoms have been fried. Serve immediately.

    Buon Appetito!

    original photos: recipe box by brighterworlds on Flickr, all the rest by Robin Locker (and may not be used without permission)

    Robin is a freelance writer and European travel consultant specializing in France and Italy. Her passion for European culture and lifestyle is featured in her blog, My Mélange, which includes travel essays, photos, restaurant and hotel recommendations, struggles with learning the Italian language, and ideas on how to live La Dolce Vita from abroad. Travel Tip Tuesday is one of My Melange’s most popular features, offering readers ways to save time and money and to avoid stress while traveling.

    Robin lives in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley with her boyfriend of 12 years and their adorable Westie, Madison. She hopes to add “expat” to her bio within the next few years, when she finally realizes her dream of living in Italy.


    Beer Batter Zucchini Flowers

    There are times when I honestly think I grow zucchini in our garden just so I can pick fresh zucchini flowers whenever I feel the urge. Zucchini flowers are light and delicate and really do not have a lot of flavor on their own, but are perfect to stuff, bread, or dip into a batter and fry as in this recipe.

    I made these beer batter zucchini flowers a few times while my family was here in Umbria visiting and they were thoroughly enjoyed by almost everyone. Although we didn’t get the youngest grandchild excited enough to try them out, the one who thoroughly dislikes most vegetables actually ate a few and said they reminded him of french fries. This batter is so light and crisp that like potato chips, you’ll find you cannot eat just one, so make lots as they will go quickly. I like these flowers simply served with a sprinkling of sea salt on top as they really do not need anything else. The key to deep frying any vegetable is to make sure that the oil you use for frying is very hot (375 degrees F.) which will ensure your vegetables crisp up nicely without absorbing much of the frying oil.