Once a squash or zucchini plant gets going, chances are you’ll have a lot more flowers than fruits growing. And that is a wonderful thing. These beauties taste like a mouthful of summer and are one of my favourite treats from the garden. I remember my parents making them a few times when I was a kid. They would get the flowers at Jean-Talon market in Montreal and make them the classic Italian way, stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies. The only problem was that I didn’t like anchovies, much to my parents’ delight… To this day, I prefer them without the anchovies.
There are male and female flowers and you will want to pick them after they’ve fulfilled their garden duties, otherwise you won’t get any squash or zucchinis. The males are on a long stem (like in the photo below) and the females grow at the end of the little squash or zucchini. They only open for a day. And once pollination has occurred they will close up and look slightly wilted. That is when you want to pick them. Gently wrapped in a paper towel and tucked into a plastic container, they will last about 2 days in the fridge. This should give you enough time to harvest a good quantity to make as an appetizer.
You can experiment with different cheeses and stuffings if you are feeling creative. For this recipe, I tried them stuffed with a mix of parmesan cheese, fresh thyme, and capers… YUM! But, you can also simplify by just stuffing a piece of mozzarella in the flower before frying them. If you have a garden, you owe it to yourself to try these. And if you don’t, you should treat yourself! They are around at farmers markets this time of year.
Fried zucchini and or squash flowers
Appetizer for 2 to 4 people
- 8 flower blossoms
- 1/2 cup loosely packed finely grated Parmesan
- 3 tsp capers, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- a bit of ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp light beer (lager)
- oil for frying
Mix the cheese, capers, thyme, and black pepper together. Separate this into eight equal parts, about a teaspoon each. You can press this cheese mixture together with your fingers to form a ball that will easily fit into the blossoms.
Gently pry open the blossoms and stuff the cheese mix in, or simply put your piece or mozzarella in if that is what you are using. Pour about an inch of oil into a (preferably cast iron) pan. Heat on medium high while you whisk together the flour and beer. Once your oil is good and hot, roll the stuffed blossoms in the batter so they are well coated. Then gently drop them into the hot oil. Do this with all of your blossoms and fry them for a minute or so on both sides, until golden brown.
Carefully remove them with a slotted spoon and let them drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and serve.