The delicate flower of young zucchini is something I look forward to each summer. They are a real delicacy in most countries however, they grow in abundance in their native Central America.
When I was in Oaxaca, Mexico, I'd see mountains of the flowers being sold in the local markets. Not so in Vancouver. So when I did finally see the prized blossom I bought as many as I could. I bought both male and female blossoms. Female blossoms grow directly out of the zucchini fruit whereas the male flowers grow directly on the stems of the plant.
Using the word 'stuffed' with 'zucchini blossoms' just seems wrong on all levels however I cannot find a better word and judging by all the other recipes out there, neither can anyone else. I looked up 'stuff' in a thesaurus and some of the synonyms included 'overload', 'force', 'ram' and 'jam'. All wrong. I was hoping to find a word that would better describe the way you have to tenderly fill the blossoms with the ingredients.
I guess sometimes literality trumps sounding pretty and delicate because the blossoms are literally stuffed with a creamy mixture of ricotta, garlic, fresh basil, egg and a little salt. They are then dipped in a light batter of flour and soda water and then deep fried for a few minutes.
While it almost seems a sin to deep fry such a delicate thing the result is worth it because they remain just as delicate to eat. The batter coats the flowers ever so lightly but still has a satisfying crunch when you bite into its warm, creamy centre.
12 zucchini blossoms
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1 large free-range egg
1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 fresh sweet basil leaves, finely chopped
3/4 tsp of sea salt
2/3 cup & 1/8 cup of all-purposed flour
1 cup of soda water
1 1/2 cups of vegetable or canola oil
Step 1: Mix together the ricotta, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, chopped basil, egg and sea salt.
Step 2: Keep mixing until the cheese forms a smooth consistency. Place the mixture into a piping bag. If you don't have one, use a freezer bag and then cut a corner off and use it as a make-shift piper. Do this just before you stuff the flowers.
Step 3: Slice the stems off the male flowers. If you need to clean the flowers, gently wipe them with a damp paper towel.
Step 4: Slice the baby zucchinis into strips ensuring the head is still attached to the flower.
Step 5: Now whisk together the soda water and flour. The mixture will seem quite frothy, this is normal: it just needs to relax. Set aside.
Step 6: Gently open the petals. It may take a few tries as they can be entwined.
Step 7: Remove the pistil by snipping it off with some scissors.
Step 8: Gently pipe about 2 tbs of filling into the flowers. They will swell up as you fill them.
Step 9: Twist the top of the petals together to close the flowers.
Step 10: Set the flowers aside. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Turn on the oven to a very low heat to keep the cooked zucchini blossoms warm.
Step 11: Dip each flower one by one into the batter. Hold it over the bowl to let the excess batter drip off.
Step 12: Test the oil to see if its ready by dropping a little batter in. It's ready if the batter sizzles to the top. Place the coated flower on a slotted spoon and gently lower it into the hot oil. Cook the flowers until they are lightly crispy for about 2-3 minutes.