Photo: jouste (Flickr)
I love zucchini and other squash blossoms. I usually stuff them with something before battering them and frying them but they are also good stuffed with fish or chicken and steamed for a lighter dish.
I learned about cooking zucchini flowers in Milan when staying at a friend’s house. I was taught the fine art of Risotto Milanese and fried zucchini flowers stuffed with fresh mozzarella and anchovies in a light tomato sauce. Both of these dishes I learned are classics in the Italian kitchen. There is nothing better than learning a new dish at the elbow of a friend, especially if coached in an Italian accent.
If you pick these flowers straight out of your garden do it in the early morning to get the best flowers. When they get hit by the midday sun they will close. Refrigerate them until needed. You can add black olives, sun-dried tomatoes or anchovies to the stuffing. You can change up the cheese to ricotta or other mild white cheese. You can also use pumpkin or other squash flowers.
Chicken Fried Zucchini Flowers With Basil, Mozzarella
- 16 large squash blossoms
- 1 (1/2 pound) lightly salted fresh mozzarella ball, room temperature
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 16 large basil leaves
- 4 eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- flour as needed for dredging
- oil for frying
- tomato sauce as needed
- herbs or greens as garnish
- Open the flowers by ripping them down one side. Remove stamen from flowers and lay out flat on a cookie tray or large plate.
- Cut the cheese into 16 small cubes and toss in a bowl with the garlic, olive oil, spices and salt.
- Wrap each piece in a large basil leaf and place one cube of seasoned cheese in each flower. Wrap the petal around the cheese and fold the end over to form a package. Give the flower a light squeeze to tighten the package.
- Beat eggs and water together and season with salt and pepper.
- Dredge in flour, then egg mixture, then breadcrumbs and sauté or deep fry.
- Serve with fresh tomato sauce and garnish with basil or other herbs or greens.