Pan-fried stuffed zucchini blossoms with ricotta and garden herbs

Pan-fried zucchini flowers with ricotta and fresh herbs

Inspired by Tuscany, recreated with love

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.

A short-lived seasonal treat. Go find zucchini flowers while you can!

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…

If you’re growing zucchini for the veggies too, be sure to only pick the male flowers

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 another super-delicious version of this recipe

Beer-battered zucchini flower fritters with curried tomato coulis

Zuchini flower - Squash blossom

Food & wine pairing: Vernaccia di San Gimignano with pan-fried zucchini flowers

White wine icon
A Vernaccia di San Gimignano is what we always order with these fritters when we are in Tuscany, but a crisp Prosecco or an aromatic Vermentino would also make a pleasing pairing.

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Pan-fried zucchini flowers with ricotta and fresh herbs

Pan-fried zucchini flowers with ricotta & fresh herbs

makes 20 flowers or serves 4
active time: 45 min

For the batter

  1. 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  3. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  4. 3/4 cup warm water
  5. 1 extra large egg

For the stuffing

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

  1. Step 1: For the batter – Place the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk until well blended. Add the water and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside and let stand for 1 hour. Just before dipping the flowers into the batter, whisk in the egg.
  2. Step 2: To stuff the flowers – Place the ricotta, shallot, herbs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and mix with a fork until well blended. Drizzle with the egg and mix again until well blended. Make a small tear lengthwise in each flower and remove the stamen. Using a dessert spoon, place a small amount of the stuffing inside each flower, at the base. Twist the petals so that the stuffing is held safely inside the flower. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat until all the flowers are stuffed.
  3. Step 3: Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to come 1/4″ up the sides of the pan. When the oil is hot, quickly dip each flower in the batter and add it to the pan. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until deep-golden in color. Flip the flowers and continue to sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until deep-golden on the other side. 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 that the oil doesn’t burn. (Alternatively, use 2 pans.) Sprinkle the fritters with the sea salt and place them on a large serving platter.
  4. Cook’s note: The flowers must be served piping hot, they become soggy as they cool.

Pan-fried zucchini flowers with ricotta and fresh herbs

appetizers, zucchini flowers, ricotta cheese