Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, and Prosciutto Crudo

*This recipe has been featured in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.*

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 zucchine 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, & Prosciutto Crudo
(Fiori di Zucchine Ripiene 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)

Oil for frying

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

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

5. 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!

59 Beans of Wisdom to “Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, and Prosciutto Crudo”
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  1. sognatrice
    08.04.2007

    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 ;)

  2. 07.18.2008

    Zucchini flower blossoms are SO gorgeous. I have yet to taste them though. This recipe sounds quite good! Love the name of your blog too by the way!

    Hillary’s last blog post..From Empanadas to Crustless Bread Sandwiches

    Hi Hillary! These truly are some of the prettiest flowers out there; it’s almost a shame to eat them! Glad you like the blog name, and I hope you’ll be back :)

  3. Gills n Thrills
    07.18.2008

    I was so excited to use zucchini flowers this summer, but my plant wasn’t very successful. I still haven’t been able to try them.

    Oh I do hope you have better luck next year; these are fun to work with (and eat) ;)

  4. 07.19.2008

    Oooh, I’ve always wanted to make these, and I love your recipe! Thanks for the great posting!

    Angela’s last blog post..croque madame: therapy for the paris-deprived

    Thank *you* for stopping by Angela; I hope you like ‘em :)

  5. These look great. Where did you get them? I live in Nashville, and have been struggling to find squash blossoms for a recipe I’m trying to create. I have been to all the farmers’ markets and asked around to friends with gardens to no avail. If anyone in or near Nashville, has squash blossoms, please let me know.

    S for Kitchen Confit’s last blog post..Miso Glazed Sea Bass

    I’m in southern Italy, and they aren’t too hard to find at markets *when* they’re in season, of course. I hope you find some soon! Nashvillians…unite :)

  6. Thanks for responding regarding squash blossoms. I’ve asked local farmers at a few of our area farmers’ markets, and it sounds like they discard the flowers before selling zucchini. I am still looking though, or hoping they won’t discard them next time.

    S for Kitchen Confit’s last blog post..Miso Glazed Sea Bass

    Well I’ll certainly keep my fingers crossed for you, S!

  7. Lucy
    07.21.2008

    Hey, I love that somebody actually posted a recipe using fiori di zucca. I have always preferred them egged, breaded, and fried for the best flavor, stuffing always seemed too time consuming, and with strong flavors, the delicacy of the flowers’ flavor were often overwhelmed. I guess I am just dreaming of the flowers I had my first dinner after moving to Roma.
    I grow my own zucchini because half the plants don’t produce any vegetable when then flower, so I have half zucchini and half flowers for frying. Growing them only takes a 4 by 4 section of yard, and I have plenty of other plants, like basil, bell, peppers, and tomatoes. They are also some of the heartiest plants I have every worked with, and grow ridiculously fast.
    In any recipe make sure you use the “male” flowers, because they don’t produce the actual zucchini but still produce the flowers best for cooking.

    lucy

    ps I don’t want to burst your bubble but coffee was first imported to Venezia (Venice) not the “south,” thats were the best coffee remains to this day. :P

    Hmm, I’m not sure I ever said the best coffee was in the south, but I can tell you that my favorite brand is Guglielmo, made right here in Catanzaro :)

    Thanks for stopping by Lucy, and for the great zucchini tips!

  8. 08.12.2011

    Just scored myself some fresh blossoms from a friend’s garden… Guess what’s for dinner tonight!!!!!

    michelle Reply:

    Mmmmm enjoy!

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Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time.

 
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