The taste of ricotta cheese stuffed zucchini flowers is a delightful and creamy experience. A delicious low carb and gluten-free version of the classic Italian appetizer.
Ricotta cheese, with its mild, slightly sweet flavor and smooth texture, is an excellent choice for filling these delicate blossoms. When combined with other complementary ingredients, the result is a dish that is both indulgent and light.
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What are zucchini flowers?
Zucchini flowers, also known as zucchini blossoms, are the edible flowers of the zucchini plant (Cucurbita pepo). They are the bright yellow or orange-gold flowers that bloom from the zucchini plant before developing into the fruit that we commonly know as zucchini.
These flowers are typically found at the end of the zucchini's stem, and they come in two types: male and female flowers. Male flowers have a slender stem and are usually more abundant on the plant. Female flowers, on the other hand, have a small zucchini attached to the base of the flower.
Both male and female zucchini flowers are edible and can be used in cooking. They have a delicate, subtly sweet flavor with a slightly peppery undertone. Zucchini flowers are highly prized in various cuisines around the world, especially in Mediterranean and Italian cooking.
Where to purchase zucchini flowers
I was very fortunate on our Caribbean island to come across a box of zucchini flowers that had been imported from France. It was a rare find in 9 years that had me loudly squealing with delight!
Zucchini flowers can often be found in specialty grocery stores, farmers' markets, and some well-stocked supermarkets, especially during the summer months when zucchini is in season. Or if you grow your own zucchini, you may have your own supply.
- Zucchini flowers - ensure that they are fresh and not limp.
- Ricotta cheese - this can be substituted with goats cheese or cream cheese.
- Parmesan cheese - adds a delicate cheesy flavor.
- Almond flour - ensures a gluten-free and low carb alternative to the traditional recipe.
- Lemon zest -adds a sharp, summer flavor.
- Egg white - a light coating for the stuffed zucchini flowers before coating in almond flour.
- Fresh basil - other herbs could be used in place of basil
How to clean zucchini flowers
Cleaning zucchini flowers is a crucial step to ensure that they are free from dirt, insects, and any impurities. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to clean zucchini flowers:
- Inspect the Flowers: Start by carefully inspecting each zucchini flower. Look for any signs of wilting, bruising, or damage. Discard any flowers that appear to be past their prime or have visible imperfections.
- Gently Remove Stems and Pistils: Trim off the stems at the base of the flowers using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Additionally, if the flowers are female (with a small zucchini attached to the base), gently remove the pistil inside the flower as it can be bitter.
- Rinse Under Cold Water: Hold the zucchini flowers under cold running water, gently rinsing both the outside and the inside of each blossom. Use your fingers to carefully open up the flower petals and remove any dirt or debris.
- Soak in Cold Water (Optional): Some people prefer to soak the zucchini flowers in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes to loosen any remaining dirt or insects. If you choose to soak them, make sure to do so briefly, as zucchini flowers are delicate and can become waterlogged if left in water for too long.
- Pat Dry: After rinsing, gently pat the zucchini flowers dry with paper towels. Be gentle to avoid damaging the delicate petals.
- Use Immediately: Zucchini flowers are best used immediately after cleaning, as they are highly perishable. If you can't use them right away, store them in the refrigerator in a container lined with a slightly damp paper towel to help retain their freshness.
Remember that zucchini flowers are delicate, and handling them with care during the cleaning process will ensure they remain intact and ready for stuffing or other culinary uses. By cleaning the zucchini flowers properly, you can fully appreciate their delicate beauty and savor their delightful flavors in your dishes.
How to make air fryer stuffed zucchini flowers
We air fry our stuffed squash blossoms but they can be baked. Directions for this will are in the recipe card below.
Mix all stuffing ingredients in a bowl.
Pipe into prepared zucchini flowers.
Dip stuffed flowers into egg white, then almond flour.
Air fryer or bake for a healthier option.
When using zucchini flowers in recipes, it's essential to handle them gently, as they are quite delicate and can bruise easily. They are best enjoyed when fresh and in season, typically during the summer months when zucchini plants are prolific.
Prepare the zucchini flowers ahead and store in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
Stuffed Zucchini Flower Variations
Stuffed zucchini flowers are incredibly versatile, and there are numerous variations to suit different tastes and culinary preferences. Here are some delightful stuffed zucchini flower variations to explore:
- Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Zucchini Flowers: Creamy goat cheese pairs beautifully with the tangy and slightly sweet sun-dried tomatoes, creating a rich and savory stuffing.
- Crab or Shrimp Stuffed Zucchini Flowers: For a more decadent twist, consider using crab or shrimp in the stuffing. Mix the seafood with cream cheese, herbs, and a hint of lemon zest for a delightful seafood-inspired treat.
- Vegan Nut "Cheese" Stuffed Zucchini Flowers: To cater to a vegan diet, you can create a dairy-free "cheese" filling using blended cashews or almonds, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and various herbs and spices for a delicious and creamy alternative.
- Feta and Spinach Stuffed Zucchini Flowers: Combining crumbled feta cheese with cooked spinach, garlic, and nutmeg results in a filling that boasts a delightful balance of flavors.
- Bacon and Gouda Stuffed Zucchini Flowers: For a savory twist, mix cooked and crumbled bacon with shredded Gouda cheese to create a smoky and indulgent filling.
Remember that the key to successful stuffed zucchini flowers is to strike a balance between the delicate flavor of the blossoms and the richness of the stuffing. Feel free to get creative and adapt these variations to suit your taste preferences, dietary restrictions, and available ingredients. Enjoy exploring the endless possibilities of stuffed zucchini flowers!
Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms Serving Suggestions
Stuffed zucchini flowers can be a delightful appetizer or side dish that pairs well with various accompaniments. Here are some delicious options to serve alongside stuffed zucchini flowers:
- Fresh Salad: A light and refreshing salad is an excellent choice to complement the richness of the stuffed zucchini flowers. Consider a simple green salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, and a light vinaigrette dressing. Alternatively, a Mediterranean-inspired salad with olives, feta cheese, and a lemon-herb dressing can also be a great match.
- Tomato Sauce: Serving stuffed zucchini flowers with a side of tomato sauce can be a classic and flavorful combination. A homemade marinara sauce or a simple tomato basil sauce will enhance the overall taste and provide a lovely dipping option for the zucchini flowers.
- Garlic Aioli or Herb Dip: Create a creamy garlic aioli or a herb-infused dip to complement the flavors of the stuffed zucchini flowers. These dips add an extra layer of indulgence and can be the perfect accompaniment for those who prefer a more decadent option.
- Grilled Vegetables: Grilled vegetables, such as asparagus, bell peppers, eggplant, or zucchini slices, make for a colorful and flavorful side dish. The grilled veggies add a smoky touch that complements the delicate taste of the stuffed zucchini flowers.
Stuffed Zucchini Flower
- 12 zucchini flowers
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 medium egg whites
- ½ cup almond flour
Clean the zucchini flowers
- Gently inspect each zucchini flower, removing the stems and any pistils from the female flowers. Rinse the flowers under cold running water, carefully opening up the petals to remove any dirt or debris. Pat them dry with paper towels and set aside.
Prepare the filling.
- In a large mixing bowl, add all the stuffing ingredients, until smooth and combined.
- Spoon into a piping bag.
Stuff the zucchini flowers
- Carefully open up each zucchini flower and use a teaspoon to stuff them with the ricotta mixture. Gently twist the ends of the petals to seal the filling inside.
Prepare the dipping station
- Gently whisk the egg white in a shallow dish.
- Add the almond flour in another shallow dish.
Prepare the stuffed zucchini flowers
- Dip the stuffed zucchini flowers into the egg white mixture and then into the almond flour. Pinch the ends to ensure the filling is kept sealed.
Air Fry the stuffed zucchini flowers
- Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes as per the manufacturer's instructions.
- Gently spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil and place the stuffed zucchini flowers in a single layer in the basket.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes at 190C/380F degrees until golden and crispy.
Bake stuffed zucchini flowers
- Preheat the oven to 200C;/400F degrees and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Place the almond flour coated zucchini flowers on the prepared baking tray and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning over half way through to ensure even baking until golden on both sides.
- Serve immediately with a dipping sauce such as marinara or a homemade mayonnaise.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.