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Fiori di Zucca or Zucchina:

Squash and Zucchini Blossoms

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Zucchini Blossoms

Zucchini Blossoms

© Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com
A while back I went to a wine tasting in Piemonte that was attended by journalists from all over the world. During one of the breaks a colleague visited a vegetable stand, returning with a large bag of dried porcini to take home. The produce was, he said, very good quality, and he was quite impressed by the elegant, golden orange blossoms with green ribs on the ends of the zucchini.

His surprise surprised me because one often sees blossoms on the end of baby zucchini in Italian markets, and they're something I take for granted. And use, if they're fresh enough that they haven't wilted (in other words from locally grown zucchini that reach the market the day they're picked). After all, since they're attached to the zucchini, which are sold by weight, I'm paying for them in any case.

If I instead decide from the outset to do something with zucchini blossoms, I'll buy blossoms on stems, in other words the blossoms of the male plants, which are somewhat larger. They should look firm and fresh, and ideally should be just slightly open.

Again, they're quite perishable, and should be used the day they're bought, or at the most the day after. If your local supermarket doesn't carry zucchini blossoms, you may be able to get them from a farmers' market, or from a farm produce stand. As a last resort, if you have a vegetable patch, you can plant some zucchini. It's worth the effort.

When you get them home put them in the crisper section of the refrigerator until it comes time to cook them. Then wash them gently, pat them dry, and remove the pistils. You're now ready to proceed.

My favorite way of enjoying zucchini blossoms is dipped in batter and fried, because the crunchy saltiness of the crisp golden batter beautifully complements the sweetness of the flower itself, without overshadowing the flower's delicate flavor. Here's a simple recipe that supposedly will serve about 6, though in my experience it's being optimistic:
  • 18 zucchini blossoms
  • A pint (500 ml) cold water (sparkling adds a nice touch), or a mixture of beer and water
  • 3 heaping tablespoons flour, or enough to give the batter the consistency of heavy cream -- it should stick to the blossoms
  • An egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt
  • Olive oil or lard, for frying
Trim the stems of the zucchini blossoms, remove the pistils, wash them gently and pat them dry just as gently.

Prepare the batter by combining the milk, flour and egg.

Heat the oil.

Lightly salt the zucchini blossoms, dredge them in the batter, fry them until golden, drain them on absorbent paper, and serve them hot.

They're fit for the Gods.

One can do other things with zucchini blossoms too.

Many people like to stuff them, and others sauté them, or cook them in one sauce or another:

Risotto ai Fiori di Zucca e Prosecco
A delicate risotto with zucchin blossoms and prosecco that will work well in a romantic meal.

Fiori di Zucca alla Certosina
Easy to prepare, zesty sauteed zucchini blossoms.

Fiori di Zucchine Ripiene
Ligurian zucchini blossoms, stuffed with greens and potatoes.

Sciuille co la Pastetta
Neapolitan stuffed zucchini blossoms, with prosciutto and cheese.

Fiori di Zucca Ripieni
Piemontese stuffed zucchini blossoms, with meat and cheese.

Fiori di Zucca Ripieni e Gratinati
Stuffed zucchini with a lightly browned cheese sauce

Fiori di Zucchina al Riso
Rice is perfect for filling zucchini blossoms.

Zucchine Ripiene con Ricotta e Olive
Ricotta and olives complement zucchini blossoms very well.

Fiori di Zucca Ripieni di Pollo alla Maggiorana
An unusual recipe with a ground chicken filling.

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