How many times have you complained about having too much zucchini? If you want to curb your zucchini production a bit, why don’t you eat the flowers? The flowers are tender and very tasty. The most common dish for them is fried, although there are lots of recipes for soups, pastas and quesadillas made with squash blossoms.
You can use any squash blossom—summer squash, gourds, pumpkin or winter squash, male or female. There are usually a lot more male blossoms than female. If you only eat the male blossoms you will not affect fruit production. But if too much fruit is a problem, go ahead and eat the female blossoms. The tiny baby fruit at the base of the flower is also very tender and tasty.
What’s the difference?
How can you tell the male from the female blossoms? The the stem of the male flower ends right at the calix (the green part the holds all the petals) and will have a pollen-covered stamen in the center of the blossom. Female flowers have a little mini fruit forming between the end of the stem and the calix.
You really only need one or two male blossoms to ensure that everything gets properly pollinated. So go ahead and harvest those blossoms for dinner.
Flowers can be either filled with a cheese filling or left unfilled before battering and frying.
16 squash flowers
1 ½ C flour (OR corn starch OR gluten free flour)
1 ½ C soda water
1/8 tsp salt
1 C ricotta, cottage or cream cheese
½ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp dried rosemary or thyme
¼ C Parmesan or Romano cheese
Mix cheeses and herbs together well. Whisk corn starch, salt and water together till you have a smooth batter. The soda water gives a light, crispy batter, but in a pinch, you can use regular water and add ¼ tsp baking soda. You want the batter to be a little runny. If it’s too thick, the batter will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the blossoms.
Use a pastry brush to dust any loose dirt off the flowers. Pinch off the stem and any calyx (the green petals coming out of the stem at the base of the flower) that are too big or tough-looking. Sometimes the stamen (the inside part that produces pollen) can be a little bitter, so pinch that off as well.
If you want filled blossoms, gently open the flower and put a spoonful of cheese filling inside. Twist the petals closed to keep the cheese from melting out while cooking.
Dip the the blossom in the batter, gently shaking of any excess. Fry in a pan with 1-2” of hot oil, turning so that all sides brown evenly. Be sure the oil is hot. If the oil is not hot enough, the cheese will melt and leak into the oil before the batter has browned. Remove and blot excess oil with paper towels.
Squash Blossoms Parmesan:
Place fried flowers in the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Pour spaghetti sauce (homemade or commercial) over the top, sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese, bake at 350° for 15-20, or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.