Makes 16 blossoms; serves 4 as a side dish
16 zucchini flowers
About 4 ounces mozzarella or other soft cheese like ricotta, Boursin, or cream cheese
1 extra large egg
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon olive oil
About 1/2 cup unbleached flour
Few pinches salt
Vegetable oil for frying
Lemon wedges for garnish
In the height of the season, I’ve seen an average adult easily consume a dozen of these during one meal. I often add some chopped herbs like chives, sweet marjoram or basil with the cheese for the filling.
The golden orange blossoms from these annual vegetable plants are a summertime treat. The blooms of all types of squash–zucchini, yellow crookneck, patty pan, winter squash, and even pumpkin–can be used, though they do vary a little in size and time of bloom.
Plants produce both male and female flowers. The squash grows from the female flowers, which will often already have a small fruit on the end when you are ready to pick blossoms. If you have an abundance of squash or want to slow down squash production, harvest both male and female blossoms. Otherwise harvest mostly male, leaving a few in the garden for pollination.
Using a sharp knife cut the male flowers leaving a few inches of stem or cut the female flowers below or above the fruit. Flowers on stems can be stored in a glass of water until ready to use, or flowers can be prepared and kept in the refrigerator between damp paper towels for a few hours. To prepare the blossoms, snip the stem close to the flower or cut the flower from the base of the fruit and remove. Rinse them carefully; they often have insects inside. Remove the stamens and stigmas from inside of the flowers and gently pat them dry.
Gently wash the zucchini flowers, remove the pistils, and pat them dry. Cut the mozzarella into 16 pieces about 1 1/2 x 1/2 inches. Place a stick of mozzarella inside each blossom.
In a shallow bowl, lightly beat the egg with a fork. Add the water and olive oil and blend well. Add the flour and the salt and combine well to make a smooth batter.
Pour the oil into a skillet so that it is about 3/4 inch deep and place it over moderate heat.
Holding the flower by the open end, dip it into the batter, and place it in the skillet. Repeat with a few more flowers. Turn them gently so that they turn golden brown all over. Drain the fried flowers on paper towels while frying the rest. Serve hot with lemon wedges.
If you are frying a lot of flowers you can place them in a preheated 300 degree oven for a short time to keep them warm, but they are best if served immediately.
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