Zucchini blossoms- delicate orange petals attached to a sturdy stem. I’ve come across many recipes for stuffed zucchini blossoms and salads garnished with the petals, but never committed to using the ingredient. For me, blossoms are that sometimes elusive ingredient we see at farmers markets, pick up to examine, but hesitate to actually purchase.
Well, this past Saturday I actually purchased two bunches of the orange delicacies. On the bike ride home I settled on a stuffed variation of the ingredient- a safe option in both taste outcome and technique.
1. Prepare 16 zucchini blossoms. I trimmed the stems up until the receptacle (the sphere-like part) for some, a few I cut off the receptacles. I found you can leave the receptacles intact. I also took off the sepals, but suspect I could’ve left them on. Gently rinse the blossoms to remove any dirt and inspect for bugs.
2. Mix the filling: 1/4- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, about 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, handful of chopped parsley, salt, and pepper. This is flexible based on what you have on hand, just make sure the flavors complement one another.
3. Stuff the blossoms. Gently pull apart the petals and stuff the filling. I found the initial spoonful for each blossom can be tricky to get into the cavity and may need a push of a thumb to settle. After each stuffing, twist closed the petals. You want to ensure there’s little to no cheese coming from the seams.
4. Coat the blossoms. A light flour coating adds a bit of crunch as well as helps seal in the filling. Break 2-3 eggs in a bowl, dip in each blossom then lightly flour (you’ll use about 1- 1 1/2 cups of flour).
A quick batch technique is egg coating 2-3 blossoms, placing each into the flour bowl, then shaking the bowl to cover with flour. Work quickly as the longer the floured blossoms sit, the gummier the coating gets, this also means you need to fry as soon as you wash the egg and flour from your hands.
5. Fry them up! Heat about 1/2 inch of corn oil in a pot. I like to use a heavy bottom, high sided pot for safety and to decrease splattering. Test the temperature of the oil by dropping a bit of egged flour- you want a nice sizzle.
When the oil is hot, add the blossoms. Fry for 1-2 minutes each side until golden brown. You might hear some hissing, that’s the cheese leaking out. Don’t worry, the world won’t end if a little cheese escapes.
6. Enjoy! Drain the fried blossoms on a paper towel. Garnish with more parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve with tomato sauce for dipping.
Quick tomato sauce- In a pot, sauté a chopped shallot (or 1/2 white onion) in some olive oil until translucent. Add 2 medium chopped tomatoes and 3 minced garlic cloves. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Splash some vegetable broth or water to loosen. Blend the contents in a blender and return to the pot over a low flame to keep warm until serving. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, then season with salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes and parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more broth to loosen if necessary.