Pan-fried zucchini flowers with ricotta and garden herbs

July 22, 2009

Imagine being in Tuscany, sitting on a terrace surrounded by vines and lavender, sipping a lovely glass of Vernaccia di San Gimignano and perusing a most enticing menu when you spot a dish called fried zucchini flowers! How can you not order it, especially if you’ve never tasted zucchini flowers before this very moment?

That’s exactly what happened to my husband and me several years ago at Il Pozzo, a restaurant that became a destination on our yearly pilgrimage to the beautiful medieval village of Monteriggioni.

We hadn’t gotten back home for more than a few days when I set out to buy fresh zucchini flowers. I finally found some at one of the Green Markets in New York City. Ten years ago, they were not as readily available as they are today.

Every summer, I look forward to certain vegetables and fruits that cannot be bought at any other time of the year. Zucchini flowers are one such treat! I love them so much that this year I decided to plant zucchinis next to my herb garden just to harvest the flowers. Unfortunately, our neighborhood’s very-fat-and-happy groundhog thought it was a good idea too! He has eaten most of my plants, leaving me only sad leafless stems. So I guess I’ll be heading back to my Farmers’ Market for them all summer long…

On a side note, the zucchini plant produces both male and female flowers. The female flowers will eventually grow into a zucchini, while the male flowers will die off. If you are growing plants for the zucchinis, make sure to pick only the male flowers to make this recipe.

Here’s a video I shot a couple of years ago, demonstrating how to stuff the flowers, dip them in batter and then pan-fry them.

I just made some for lunch and they were sublime!

Pan-fried zucchini flowers

makes 20 flowers or serves 4
active time: 45 min

For the batter

  1. 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  3. 3/4 cup warm water
  4. 1 large egg

For the stuffing

  1. 1 large egg – lightly beaten
  2. 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  3. 1 shallot – skinned and finely chopped
  4. 3 tablespoons finely chopped garden herbs (Italian parsley, basil, oregano, thyme and sage)
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  6. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. 20 medium fresh zucchini flowers
  2. olive oil for pan-frying

  1. Step 1: For the batter – Mix the flour, salt and water in a large bowl. Set aside and let stand for 1 hour. Just before dipping the flowers into the batter, whisk in the egg.
  2. Step 2: For the stuffing – Mix the egg, ricotta, shallot, herbs, salt and pepper until well blended and set aside.
  3. Step 3: To stuff the flowers – Make a slit lengthwise in each flower and remove the stamen. Using a dessert spoon, place a small amount of the stuffing at the base of each flower and twist the petals so that the stuffing is held safely inside the flower. Place on a baking sheet.
  4. Step 4: Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet to high heat. Add enough oil to the pan to reach 1/8” up the sides. When the oil is hot, dip each flower in the batter and add them to the pan. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Flip the flowers and continue to sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until golden. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all flowers have been used, reducing the heat when the pan gets very hot so the oil doesn’t burn. Alternatively, use 2 pans.
  5. Step 5: To serve, overlap 5 flowers in the center of each plate and serve immediately.
  6. Cook’s note: The flowers must be served piping hot, they become soggy as they cool.

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Looking for more original appetizer recipes? Try these Parmesan-crusted fennel fritters with Meyer lemon dip.

appetizers, zucchini flowers, ricotta cheese
© 2011 Viviane Bauquet Farre Food & Style NY LLC

Fiori di Zucca fritti

Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

maybelles mom July 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm

How can you tell if it is a male flower? I do love squash blossoms this way.

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Viviane Bauquet Farre July 22, 2009 at 4:59 pm

The female flowers have the beginnings of a baby zucchini attached to them. The male flowers just have long stems.

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Jen July 23, 2009 at 7:24 am

These look fantastic! I have a bunch of zucchini flowers growing here, I wasn’t sure if I should pick the males because I thought they were needed to pollenate the females.

I have to confess I’m looking forward to making this more than the actual zucchini. Now if I could just make my way to the medieval village in Tuscany…

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The Gypsy Chef July 23, 2009 at 7:34 am

Very nice video! Informative and enjoyable to watch. I always wondered how they were stuffed. I will buy zucchini flowers at the market and make them tomorrow!
Pam

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Lone Acorn July 23, 2009 at 7:58 am

You have a wonderful blog. I had never ever heard of this recipe. Would try to search for these flowers to try your recipe for sure.

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Allison Lemons July 23, 2009 at 10:35 am

Beautiful! I’ve passed up zucchini flowers for the last couple of weeks at the market, but I think this week I’ll pick them up. Your stuffing sounds amazing.

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Vicki Hvid July 24, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Those are lovely and look delicious.

If I can rescue some blossoms this year I must try that – I have also unfortunately discovered just how fond of them groundhog(s?) are.

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Trent July 30, 2009 at 5:46 am

I love these stuffed with just about anything! Btw, if you are eating the zucchini, there’s no sense wasting the flower and in my book, it’s okay to pick the female flowers then :0)

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simona July 30, 2009 at 5:47 am

I love “fiori di zucchina fritti”!! And also Il Pozzo, it is a nice, cozy trattoria, with good food and informal ambience!
ciao
Simona

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Frank July 30, 2009 at 7:32 am

Yum! I love fried zucchini flowers! And miss them–I used to have them all the time back in Rome but can’t seem to find them where I live now. :=(( They’re great stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies, too.

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Viviane Bauquet Farre July 30, 2009 at 7:38 am

Ah! That’s too bad… You need to hunt down a small farmer who can pick them for you. I had to do this myself for a few years, before our local farmers’ market offered them. I wish you luck… I don’t know that I could live without making & eating zucchini flowers every summer!

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My Food and Life Encounters July 30, 2009 at 12:52 pm

I sent this to my mother. She has a garden full of Zucchini and their blossoms.
I told her that ppl cook with the blossoms and she did not believe me…LOL.
This looks terrific.

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Viviane Bauquet Farre August 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm

That is funny! Do you think your mom would ever try to cook with zucchini flowers? I tell you, I wish I lived near her, I would be raiding her garden all the time!

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food with style August 14, 2009 at 8:39 am

you are just adorable, i love love love learning to cook with you, your video’s are fantastic, i am off to pick some blossoms this week, thank you!

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littlemsblogger August 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Won’t the male flowers die off before I know they are male?

Can I make with other squash blossoms like butternut?

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Liz August 19, 2009 at 8:40 am

I just discovered your blog on tastespotting, and I love your recipes and photo styling. I just attempted squash blossoms last weekend, and had no idea why some had mini zucchini attached and the others just had stems. Thanks! I’m adding you to my reader.

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Florida Girl In Sydney November 4, 2009 at 6:06 pm

I found your blog searching for zucchini flower recipes– your recipe is exactly what I was looking for. I’m trying this out tonight, and I’m not great at frying things, so wish me luck!

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Viviane Bauquet Farre November 4, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Laura! I am so glad you like the recipe and I do indeed wish you luck! Let me know how it turns out…

You are making me a bit sad though: the zucchini flower season has ended a while ago for me in NY! I’ll have to wait until next June now… So eat up for me!

Bon Appétit and happy cooking!

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Pepy @ Indonesia Eats November 23, 2009 at 1:34 pm

I do have other kinds of flower before and never found a zucchini flowers yet. Do you have any information where I can get them?

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Viviane Bauquet Farre November 23, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Pepy, In the US, I can find zucchini flowers at Farmers’ Markets or gourmet grocery stores. Otherwise, the best way to get them is to grow them yourself or ask a local farmer if he grows them. The season for zucchini flowers is late spring to early fall. Good luck finding them… They are worth the effort… :)

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erin :: the olive notes May 4, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Loving your site…just made these after finding them at our farmer’s market! They turned out great :) Just shared your video on my blog.

Can’t wait to read more on your site!

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Brian July 11, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Thanks for the great recipe and video. A zucchini plant generally produces ALL male flowers at first to ensure pollination. Since they’re going to die and fall off, you can pick some for this recipe without having to worry about your female plants going unpollinated.

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Paige August 3, 2010 at 10:34 am

We live in Washington state and I still have two or three squash blossoms daily in my garden. The squash are usually 1 inch long and a half inch round when the blossom opens for only a day. So far I haven’t noticed that picking the flower hurts the squash. I’m off to pick two blossoms for breakfast!

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Chris June 24, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Love this! I just made/posted blossoms a couple of weeks ago. It was my first time eating them and I am hooked!

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Aida from Mexico June 28, 2011 at 12:03 am

Hi, Love your site and your recipes, we have here in Mexico blossom flowers all year round and I cook them in many different ways,some fried just stuffed with Oaxaca cheese and one Epazote leaf and before serving them you throw them to swim in a Mole sauce, it is made from dried chilies, and as a side dish you make some fried black beans with chorizo( it is like a hot sausage) and some grated farmer cheese. yummmmmy!!!!!!

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Viviane June 28, 2011 at 8:02 am

Aida! Thank you for your comment and for brining an exotic touch to the zucchini flowers – it all sounds heavenly!

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nina karamallis July 4, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Just made these and I feel like I am back in Italy!
Thanks so much for demystifying this delicious dish!

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Tina@flourtrader July 8, 2011 at 9:44 am

this is an excellent post, Great video and very clear instructions on preparation. I have yet to find these at the grocers, but I will be on the look out. Your explanation of that restaurant in Tuscany has me very envious. Thanks so much for sharing-buzz

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Viviane July 8, 2011 at 11:16 am

Thank you so much Tina! I just pisked some zucchini flowers from my own garden – my first time ever! I’m making these for dinner tonight – so excited!

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Adora's Box July 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

It is difficult to come by courgette flowers here in the UK. I grew a few plants last year and was able to have some of the flowers. Delicious stuff. I love the stuffing. Enjoyed your video a lot.

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torviewtoronto July 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm

delicious looking zucchini flowers beautiful

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Hester aka The Chef Doc July 10, 2011 at 1:45 am

Major love :-) I love stuffed zucchini blossoms as well as when they’re battered up and fried ;-)

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Parsley Sage July 10, 2011 at 9:48 am

That darned groundhog! Oh well, at least you can still pick some up at the market. This is a lovely recipe, never heard of eating zucchini flowers before :) Buzzed!

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briarrose July 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Such a pretty treat. I’ve seen these many times, but I’ve never had a chance to try them.

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EatDrinkCleveland July 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Viviane – this blog brought me back to my childhood when my Grammie would make fried zucchini blossoms for me every summer when I would visit her. Thank you for giving me an excuse to daydream a little today!! Her’s were normally not stuffed but she would stuff them for a special treat. I’m thinking I need to grow zucchini just so I have some blossoms. Reading about them was a treat but not so much as EATING them would be! Thank you!

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Viviane July 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm

EatDrinkCleveland! Thank you so much for your comment and for stopping by. How very lucky for you that your grandmother made zucchini blossoms every summer! I think you should plant zucchinis just for the flowers. This is what I’ve done this year, and since about to weeks ago, I’m able to harvest 2 dozen flowers a couple of times a week. I’ve been making the pan-fried flowers unstuffed for a quicker appetizer and I’ve been serving them with this coulis: http://foodandstyle.com/2011/07/11/tomato-coulis-with-shallots-and-white-wine/ I hope you get to eat some soon!

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Britishmum July 22, 2011 at 8:09 pm

I’m so happy I found your site, I recently made (attempted to make!) zucchini flowers and I ruined these beautiful creatures! With your recipe I will try again and I’m sure I will be successful with your help!
I will sign up to follow you :)
Mary

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Viviane July 23, 2011 at 7:29 am

Dear Mary, Thank you so much for stopping by! I am very glad you will try to make the zucchini flowers again… They are so worth it! Do let me know how the recipe turns out. Thank you also for the follow! Happy cooking and happy eating!

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Donna Ford September 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I love your video, that’s how I found you years ago. I love your recipe but sadly I wasn’t able to plant any zucchini this summer. Hopefully next summer! Thanks Viviane!

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Suzi June 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

What a lovely and pleasant vision you’ve painted for the zucchini flowers. I’d love to try these but have yet to see them at the produce market. I shall keep searching. Very nice.

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Viviane June 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Thank you so much Suzi… You should be able to find zucchini flowers soon. My plants has just given me the first harvest – delish!

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CCU June 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm

A beautiful backdrop to a classy and delicious dish my friend :D
Thank you :)

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

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Viviane June 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Thank you CCU!

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Anita at Hungry Couple June 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Damn that groundhog! :) Stuffed, pan fried zucchini flowers sounds so good right about now!

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Viviane June 22, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Anita! I’ve installed an electric fence around my veggie garden… just for my fat-and-happy groundhog. He now smells the fence, and even stands up, but doesn’t dare to jump over it. I’ve just cooked my first batch of homegrown zucchini flowers. As you can imagine, I’m thrilled!

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Riley June 22, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I can’t wait to make these! I feel like I’m in Italy already.

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Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. June 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm

How perfect! These look so delish!

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Balvinder July 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Hi Vivian ,I signed up for your newsletter but just after one it never came. i was wondering if you have posted anything. Now when I came here I saw you actually are writing.

Your zucchini flowers reminds me of my home when my mother used to fry these flowers. We used chickpea flour instead of white flour. I checked your video and you have made it look so simple but I know zucchini flowers are delicate to handle.

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Viviane July 24, 2012 at 8:39 am

Balvinder, I just checked and your email address is on my list for the newsletter. I will be sending out a new one by the end of this week. Let me know if you do not receive it. As for the zucchini flowers, thank you so much for your comment. I’m wondering if you should use rice flour instead though… I love chickpea flour, but it has a strong flavor and I think it would overpower the delicate flowers. Bon appétit!

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Balvinder July 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Yeah I did get one newsletter today.

Chickpea flour does have a strong flavor but we are accustomed to that taste. Rice flour is good and I use it for frying as well.

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Viviane July 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Glad you got the newsletter Balvinder! Thank you for letting me know…

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Ar July 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I was wondering where to get zucchini flowers so I guess I’ll have to try the Farmer’s Market. Thanks.

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Viviane July 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Ar, You’re most welcome… You should be finding the zucchini flowers easily at this time of the year – good luck!

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blackdirtbread.com October 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Are you looking for zuchini flowers? My husband and I own an organically grown farm in Pine Island, NY. We sell zuchini flowers to local restaurants and customers on our email list all summer long. If you are interested, please contact us at http://www.braccofarms.com. We would love to hear from you! We enjoy serving the zuchini flowers before dinner with a glass of wine and fresh italian bread. Oh, so good!

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Leah June 23, 2013 at 7:05 pm

These were AWESOME, the only problem is I only had 4 blossums today to cook up! My plant is just starting to bloom so all those male blooms will be fried up :-) My first time trying them and this is such a good recipe I can’t imagine bothering to look for a better one. The video was very helpful to see also.

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Viviane June 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Dear Leah, Thank you so much for your comment and your kind words about the recipe. I am delighted you enjoyed it! I just harvested 11 flowers from my zucchini plants this morning (first time this season!), so I have the same problem, my plants don;t produce a whole lot of flowers every day. I usually put the blossoms in a large plastic bag, seal it with plenty of air in the bag and refrigerate. I find that the blossoms last 2 to 3 days like this in the refrigerator, which gives me a chance to harvest a few more every day to make the recipe. I hope your plants will be very abundant this season… Enjoy, my dear!

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