Edible flowers can add a truly unique look and taste to many ordinary foods. Squash blossoms are one of my favorite groups of edible flowers. They are tasty, versatile and easy to grow in larger quantities. Plus, growing your own is a more economical way to get your squash blossom fix. Most squash blossoms are edible. My personal favorites are from zucchini plants.
Our recent video post showed you how to identify and harvest zucchini blossoms. Now let’s talk about cooking or raw use of these wonders of the summer. Be sure to use them while as fresh as possible and remove the inner stamen part of the blossom before preparing. The stamen is the small “stem-like” structure in the center of the flower interior. It takes a gentle hand and some practice to do this without tearing the flower too much.
My favorite way to prepare squash blossoms is to batter and fry them. I typically do this by dipping them in egg wash followed by a gentle breading with fine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Then gently into some hot oil for frying. Once cooked the flowers are placed on a few paper towels, sprinkled with a touch of fine, grated parmesan and eaten!
Since my family eats these almost nightly in the summer I had to find a more healthy way to prepare them.
As a result, baked zucchini flower fritters were created and perfected in our kitchen last summer. We call these our “ZFF’s, BFF’s” (translated to zucchini flower fritter, best friends forever). The ZFF’s are almost as crispy as their fried friends and a lot less oily! Baking them is also considerably less messy. I use the same preparation as the fried versions except instead of frying I place the flowers on a well sprayed (non-stick cooking spray) or lightly oiled sheet pan. It works even better to pre-heat the sheet pan in the oven (at 400 – 425 degrees). The flowers bake at that temp for 5-6 minutes and then I flip them over to finish. Cooking time varies depending on size of flower, amount of coating and desired level of crispness. I have even executed this versatile recipe on the grill. Instead of a sheet pan I use heavy-duty aluminum foil placed on the top rack of the grill. You need to master the heat variability of a grill, but in time the final result is just as good as the indoor oven without all the indoor heat. Plus, grilling allows you to experiment with adding a smoked flavor (if your grill has a smoker box).
I have also stuffed zucchini flowers with various cheeses, but that takes us back into the realm of the “less healthy”. Once in a while it is OK, but too often and you will need a larger pair of shorts!
Here is a zucchini blossom recipe for our raw food friends. Simply take freshly harvested zucchini blossoms and thinly slice them. Next, toss the sliced blossoms on top of your salad, risotto, summer pasta dishes and more. Just be sure to add them at the end of cooking/preparing a dish. Isn’t raw food easy?