A summertime favorite, zucchini blossoms are coveted for their delicate, earthy flavor.
There are so few truly seasonal foods anymore, but zucchini blossoms are one of them. Arriving in the early summer, they are the color of sunshine and add as much beauty to the plate as they do flavor, which is delicate and somewhat earthy. While they are often snipped to act as a brilliant garnish, Italians are not afraid to feature the whole flower. In Roman kitchens, zucchini blossoms are often stuffed with cheese, anchovy, and herbs and lightly fried. (For stuffed zucchini recipes, look here, here, and here. For stuffed with cheese and fried, look here.) A whole flower may also be used to cover an omelet as is done here, or the flowers may be quartered and sauteed to add to a fish dish like this one.
Your best bet for finding zucchini blossoms, if you are not a gardner, is at your local farmer's market. (Or you can mail order them from Diamond Organics.)
Blossoms are male (stem only) or female (attached to baby zucchini). The male blossoms are sturdier and a bit larger, which makes them best for stuffing. If you do plan to stuff the blossoms, seek out big, bright flowers with moist stems. Use the flowers soon after purchasing them as they will only last a day or two in the refrigerator. To keep them freshest, gather the blossoms together loosely in bunches and wrap them in damp paper towel in an open plastic bag before refrigerating (ideally in your produce drawer).
Clean the blossoms before cooking. Check inside the petals for small bugs and then brush blossoms with a damp paper towel. Stems and pistils are edible, but if you plan to stuff the blossom, it will be easier if you remove the pistils. To do so, just use your fingers to pinch and slightly twist.
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