25 July 2007
what's cooking wednesday:
zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta, spinach, and prosciutto crudo

Today's What's Cooking Wednesday has us playing with some flowers.

Those of the lovely zucchini, or courgettes to some of you:

zucchini flowers
zucchini flowers
Don't they just look good enough to eat?

Fiori di zucchini come in two varieties, male and female, and they're both edible. You can tell the females by the fact that they are attached to the zucchini whereas the males have stems like regular flowers. The ones pictured above, then, are males.

Plus, of course, the females have pistils and the males have stamens (you remember biology class, right?). They say you can leave these in when you prepare the flowers to be eaten, but I always remove them with a quick twist. Ouch!

There are a lot of very basic, very delicious recipes for fried zucchini flowers out there--just whip up a tempura batter with flour, egg, milk, and salt (slightly more exact measurements below), and fry 'em up.

And that's what I did with about half of the flowers, the smaller ones.

fried zucchini flowers
With the rest, though, I wanted to try a little something more adventurous. So I spiced up my ricotta and spinach cannelloni filling with some prosciutto crudo. I loved the results, the way the saltiness of the prosciutto picked up the sweetness of the flowers and how the spinach brought it all back down with its earthy flavor.

All measurements are approximate, so feel free to play.

Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, and Prosciutto Crudo

(Fiori di Zucchini Ripieni con
Ricotta, Spinaci e Prosciutto Crudo)

zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta, spinach, and prosciutto crudo
Approximately 25-30 large zucchini flowers

Filling:
1 egg yolk
One small container ricotta cheese (fresh if you can find it)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped spinach
prosciutto crudo, torn into bits or diced
grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
dash nutmeg
salt to taste

Batter:
(Note: I used this for all the flowers,
so this was enough for about 60 in all)
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
Vegetable oil for frying

Prepare the batter and set aside; it shouldn't be too thick for this recipe, although here they definitely make this batter quite thick and you end up with almost a fritter--tasty too, but not what we're going for here.

One note: do remember that you're dealing with flowers, so be gentle.

To prepare the zucchini flowers, remove the stamens and stems and then wash the flowers carefully and put them on paper towels to dry. Note that you can also leave the stems on for presentation purposes, but I usually take them off.

Prepare the filling by combining all the ingredients above and gently stuff the zucchini flowers up until the point where the petals start to open. I used a makeshift pastry bag (Ziploc with the corner cut off). You can twist the petals a bit to close in the stuffing.

If you aren't going to fry them right away, you can store the stuffed flowers this way in the fridge for a few hours, although I wouldn't wait too long because the ricotta can get watery.

When you're ready to fry, heat the vegetable oil in a medium to large pan.

One by one, dip the stuffed flowers in the batter (you're going to have to use your hands here) and let excess batter drip off. Then drop the flower in oil and allow all sides to brown before you lift out and put on paper towels to drain.

I'd recommend only frying two flowers at a time otherwise they become difficult to keep track of increasing burning possibilities.

Although they require a bit of prep work, these make tasty, impressive-looking appetizers, but you need to serve them warm. If you won't be serving right away, use an oven to keep them heated until you're ready to serve.

zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta, spinach, and prosciutto crudo

Buon appetito!


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51 Comments:

Ciao Sognatrice!

Hmmm... my mother's absoulte favorite dish includes zucchini flowers, and you just can't find them here! We've tried, and nothin'...

Yes, that Antonacci song is a little quirky, but it has a nice little somethin' I can't quite point out what it is :)

Oh wow, that looks and reads deliciously! Just a shame I've never seen zucchini flowers in the shops here and my own attempts to grow them... well let's just say I had some delighted snails...

Blogger Giulia said...
Blogger sognatrice said...

Farfallina and AV & A, sorry that you can't find the flowers; truth be told, I never saw them around much when I lived in the States. We don't grow zucchini, so we get ours from whatever farmer is driving around his little truck full of them--picked that morning, of course, else they're no good anymore.

Giulia, yummy indeed, although I wouldn't mind if someone would come here and make every meal for me these days--stinkin' hot where you are too?

Anonymous My Melange said...

I loved these when we were in Italy. I HATE zucchini itself, so the thought of trying these was scary, but I really liked them. When I got home, I tried to recreate them, but they are never the same. It's hard to get the flowers here, my mom won't give 'em up because she caught on after a few good batches that the zucchini grows from the flower..so she was giving away her precious zucchinis! I put small slices of mozzerella in mine, but I think I'll try yours too..they look very good! Thanks for the recipe.

Blogger Figs Olives Wine said...

The nutmeg's genius. I can't wait to try these!

Blogger Melissa R. Garrett said...

I read in Mother Earth News about how zucchini flowers are edible. I had never know that before ~ but these look absolutely delicious! And the best part is, I have a garden full of them :-)

Blogger sognatrice said...

My Melange, mmm, mozzarella--of course I love that with anything! Sounds great :)

Figs, why thank you; where I don't add peperoncino, I usually add nutmeg--good way to heighten flavors without changing their original taste :)

Melissa, lucky you! If you or anyone is put off by eating flowers, let me assure you that they don't taste "flowery"; they actually have a very mild but slightly sweet taste. I generally don't like flowery smells, tastes, etc., (including perfumes!) but my exceptions are these and Earl Grey tea :)

There are tons of recipes online if you're looking to stuff them, btw--I linked to two of my favorite in this post in fact :)

Mmmmmmm. I've seen other recipes using zucchini flowers, but none looked so good as this one!

Blogger Giulia said...

I swear, I typed more after the word yummy in my last comment, but it isn't there any more?! lol
I had also written that when I was little, my Mom used to make pizelle... (or is it fritelle?), with those flowers inside. My spelling is probably way off, but I am sure someone knows what I am referring to. I used to love to eat them hot right out of the fryer loaded with salt. Ummm, yummy, great memories. :)

Oh, and YES, it's disgustingly hot here! Are you getting hit with the brush fires down there? I thought I caught a headline this morning that the fires are now down in Calabria?

Blogger chris & erin said...

oh please, pretty please, may I come to dinner?! I'm seriously thinking that this may be worth a round trip ticket :)

This is the recipe that I've been talking about non-stop lately about "what I can't wait to try when we move" YUM

Blogger qualcosa di bello said...

ok, now you are just teasing your american readers!

way to make me think that a 4 digit charge to my credit card for a summer flight isn't so bad...

Blogger sognatrice said...

Kathleen, why thanks, and thanks for commenting :)

Giulia, I'm not sure what they'd be called in Italian, but I'd just call them zucchini flower fritters--and yes, quite tasty; that's the normal way of making them here too. They're kind of like the anchovy-filled zeppole only with zucchini flowers. In fact, P turned his nose up at my flowers...at first. Pizzelles, to be clear, are the anise-flavored cookies made in a pizzelle iron. Yum :)

We've had the fires here for at least a month now--the other day one actually got a couple houses in a neighboring village, which is rare. Usually it's "only" the trees and land. I'm going to post some photos later this week.

I still have some photos saved up, but I have bad news--my camera is broken! Aaaaah!!!!!!! I'm crushed, especially since I have no idea what happened and how freaking long it's going to take to get it fixed/replaced. An error message comes up when I turn it on, so it looks serious. Just in time for my friends that are arriving in a few days :(

Erin, you need to hurry up and get here while the flowers are still good!

Qualcosa, well, I'm glad I could help make you feel better about that credit card statement...I do what I can ;)

Blogger JennieBoo said...

Oh!

Looks so yummy!

I'd omit the prosuito, because I'm a "veggie"!

I didn't know the zucchini flower WAS edible...silly me.

:D

Yum yum yum! Who knew flowers would taste so good fried....or maybe it's just that I like fried...everything.

Blogger stefanie said...

It would never occur to me even to eat flowers, much less to stuff them with something and fry them up. Oh, the things I could learn from you, Sognatrice! :-)

Blogger sognatrice said...

Jennie, you really don't *need* the prosciutto in here anyway--just a little something I had in the fridge so I threw it in. I love ricotta and spinach together; I may have to start stuffing more things :)

Sara, I completely agree on the frying--I think I'd eat just about anything if it were battered and fried ;)

Stefanie, well I can't say I would have thought of this one on my own. I've had fried zucchini flowers (unstuffed) here, and then, upon noticing there was space for stuff inside, I wondered...found a lot of recipes on the Internet, but ended up using my own anyway--mostly because those ingredients were either already in my fridge or easy to get.

Blogger somepinkflowers said...

your stuffed zucchini
are the best i have ever seen!

i could almost taste them...
but
not
quite.

so,
i will be arriving
in your village in 15 hours
and
would LOVE a plate full, please.

:-)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm - fried zucchini flowers - My mom has made them for years. Another good way to make them is to put them in a frittata...mmmmmmm. I can't wait to try your recipe with the ricotta.

Blogger sognatrice said...

spf, well that will give me *plenty* of time to find another guy with a truck full of flowers; thanks for the notice :)

Anonymous, a frittata does sound good with the flowers. Mmmm....

Blogger Sparky Duck said...

A funny coincidence, because the wife was just talking about how much she missed these the other day

Blogger Ally Bean said...

We just had those for the first time this spring at a very fancy restaurant in Atlanta. They were delish, but from the looks of the recipe more cooking than I ever want to do. Funny how experiences in life link together sometimes.

Blogger goodthomas said...

Very nice, Sognatrice. Not a big zucchini fan either but it sure looks good on that plate, in that lighting.

How is (was) "Peace Be With You?"

Blogger sognatrice said...

Ally, that is funny; yes, they're time-consuming, but I'd definitely make them for a party or other special occasion. Look pretty on a plate to boot :)

gt, I'm not actually a huge zucchini fan either--P brought these flowers home one day, and people keep giving me zucchini, though, so I do what I must ;)

I've just started "Peace Be With You"; I'm really liking it so far, getting to know the characters. I'll definitely be reviewing this one on the blog, so stay tuned :)

Blogger sognatrice said...

Oops, I missed you Sparky Duck! That is another weird coincidence. I was a Philly transplant for a while too, btw, which is why I stopped by your place. I'll be back :)

Blogger Jér said...

You can also make a simple batter out of icewater, flour and salt--I feel like egg batter overwhelms the delicate flowers.

And I really wish I could find fiori di zucca here in the U.S. :(

Blogger Karina said...

I've never even heard of zuchini flowers, but my both of those dishes look delicious! AH, fried foods!!! How I miss thee... ;-)

Blogger sognatrice said...

Jér, I'll have to try that out. Without telling P of course--he thought stuffing them was crazy enough!

Karina, oh every now and again you can have something fried, right? I watch what I eat as well, but I never deny myself anything if I *really* want it--I just tell myself I can only have a little ;)

Blogger Ninotchka said...

WOW those are AMAZING! I wonder where the heck I could find zucchini flowers around these parts? If not, I'll just have to live vicariously. :)

Oh my, those are quite lovely!

It's so ironic that you put this recipe up this week. Somehow... though, I am not surprised. It seems the way with you and I.

I am currently reading 1000 days in Tuscany (I WISH I had a thousand days to play there... soon... soon...)
and I keep thinking of you as I walk through the story.

The lady that wrote it is a wonder of la cucina, not unlike you, and she wrote quite a bit about cooking these blossoms... recipe and all. I just finished reading that part.
I loved reading about it.
I look forward to trying them when I get there!


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Anonymous Tina said...

That's it, I'm heading straight to the market! I grew up on the fried zucchini flowers, but have never had them stuffed. Will try it!

Anonymous Sara said...

Mmm, yummy yummy yummy! I absolutely love these things, and I think your filling concept is inspired.

Blogger Erin said...

Wow, this is the first I've hear of eating those. That's a really neat recipe. I would have never thought. Thanks for sharing.

Blogger BC said...

I am green with envy! I love zucchini flowers and miss them terribly. But, I appareciate them so much because they are such a rare treat.

Anonymous jessica in rome said...

look at you go chef! Those look great! Very cool, I will have to try to find someone to make them for me (I only use the kitchen to eat, no cooking)heehee!

Blogger Blame It on Paris said...

Yummy! I've never tried zucchini flowers at all. But eating flowers always sounds like fun.

Anonymous Frances said...

Ohmigosh how do you stay so thin and beautiful and make all this wonderful food!
I nearly dove into the screen after those.
Can you Fed-Ex me a few?
Ciao Bella,
Frances

Blogger Karen Cole said...

Ok....I was afraid of this. I should never check out your blog on Wednesday!!! I'm hungry!

Last year in Italy ,was my first experience with zucchini flowers. I may have had them everyday of my two week trip. Can't get them here. Maybe the italian market on 9th street??? (did you cook as much here, by the way?)

This year I won't be there until the end of September. My guess is that they will not be available. What does the brilliant chef have up her sleeve for late September , so I can start working out to prepare for it.

Blogger Shan said...

What can I say, but wow! Looks amazing.

Blogger Madelyne said...

Zucchini flowers are my favourite. When I was growing up my mum would either stuff them or make little fritters (mini fritata) with them. The kids at school thought i was odd having them on my sandwiches....I'm sure they now realise I was ahead of my time for the gourmet trend.

Anonymous Antonella said...

Wow. This reminds me of when I used to be a patient-family volunteer at Fred Hutch. I was assigned to an Italian-Am family from NJ. I think their origins were in Campagna. One of my duties was to show them around. One day I suggested an outing to Mt Rainier. The mom offered to make us sandwichesn for the trip. The sandwiches she made had Fried Zucchini Flowers, Sliced Provolone and Marinated Mushrooms on Really Good Bread. "Uh, the mountain's over there somewhere (pointing vaguely). Now leave me in peace so I can eat my sandwich!" LOL

Anonymous Mauryn said...

My aunt made fried zucchini flowers last weekend. YUM!

My mother-in-law makes them stuffed but with a touch of anchovy instead of the prosciutto.
Gives it a nice salty tang.

I love cooking too! You know, inspired by your last post about pursuing your dreams, I sent my resume yesterday to the offices of La Cucina Italiana magazine... wouldn't it be awesome to work there??!!

Blogger sognatrice said...

Nino, aren't they pretty? There's just something romantic about eating flowers :)

Scarlett, I really like Marlena de Blasi's books; I was just telling someone else that I have to go through them again and try some of her recipes. Right now that thought's on hold as the books are packed away, but there's always the winter....

Tina, I had never had them stuffed either--but I'm *so* glad I tried it :)

Sara, I had a feeling you'd enjoy them--they *are* flowers after all :)

Erin, it's pretty popular around here to eat them, although I've never seen them stuffed round these parts. Guess I'll have to start a new trend ;)

BC, yes, I know that feeling well, although mine works in the opposite direction--you know, like barbecue sauce for instance ;)

Jessica, cooking is so much fun once you get the hang of it and gain some confidence--having a willing guinea pig to try stuff doesn't hurt either. Hope you find a good personal chef, though, in the meantime ;)

Laura (Paris), I think this just goes to prove that flowers are simply one of the best creations ever. My compliments to whoever/whatever did that, then ;)

Frances, hmm, ricotta doesn't travel well, but I'm betting you could find something comparable over in Little Italy. "Thin," not so much, although "beautiful" I'll just thank you for, and point you towards my mom :)

Karen, definitely check out the Italian market--pick up the ricotta while you're there too :) To answer your question, no, I didn't cook nearly as much in Philly as I do now--and here, it's mostly out of necessity b/c delivery doesn't exist and take-out just barely. There are some pre-prepared things on the market now, but quite honestly I'm spoiled and can really taste the difference. And since I've realized that I actually enjoy cooking, well, Wednesdays will probably continue to be dangerous for you ;)

Shan, thanks :)

Madelyne, I've heard stories from a lot of people of Italian heritage about how the kids at school used to think their lunches were crazy--roasted red pepper sandwiches, for instance. And look how now "panini" are all the rage...hmm....

Antonella, speaking of sandwiches, wow, I could go for one of those right about now. Just need to find some more flowers....thanks for sharing that lovely memory :)

Mauryn, that's great about your resume! Best of luck, and definitely keep us posted! I like the idea of anchovies--would give them a nice southern Italian/Sicilian flair, and to that, all I can say is "yum!" :)

Anonymous Tui said...

YUM!!! I am speechless... and drooling! (Which means that I would not make a very good first impression on anyone right now!)

Blogger sognatrice said...

Tui, just step away from the computer slowly and no one will get hurt ;)

Lovely! I must seek out some squash flowers and make this!

Blogger sognatrice said...

Cowgirl, I sure hope you can find them--this is definitely worth the work :)

Anonymous Enza said...

yummmm, i grew up with them fried but never stuffed. I can't wait to try this but i am not sure where I can find them. My dad use to grow them and pick them right off his plants. Maybe someone from stateside can help me out.

Blogger Jen said...

These look wonderful. I'm back to the farmer's market on Wednesday and am definitely picking up some zucchini flowers!

Blogger Emily said...

My mouth is watering over here...

Blogger sognatrice said...

Enza, a lot of people have difficulty finding the flowers--guess you'll just have to plant your own zucchini for next year ;)

Jen, yes yes! I hope you have better luck than Enza :(

Emily, so long as the watering doesn't get on the keyboard, I think that's OK ;)

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