I love zucchini blossoms. But they might just be the most elusive of any summer produce. In the seventeen years I’ve lived in my current area, I’ve never found them in any local supermarket. Not once. But they occasionally—very occasionally—make an appearance at farm markets. So when I recently got a newsletter from one of our local markets mentioning they were on sale (Sundays only!) I rushed out to buy some.
Surely the most popular way to enjoy zucchini blossoms in Italian cookery is stuffed and fried. They are also lovely stuffed and baked in the Ligurian fashion. But stuffing a zucchini blossom can be rather fussy business. And only the freshest of zucchini blossoms lend themselves to the treatment.
Today’s recipe for frittelle di fiori di zucca, or Zucchini Blossom Pancakes, eliminates the fuss without sacrificing any of the taste. You fold the trimmed and shredded blossoms into a loose batter, enriched with ricotta and grated parmigiano-reggiano, then fry them in olive oil. They come out crispy and golden brown on the outside, and pillowy soft on the inside. A fabulous antipasto that sings of summer.
Makes about 6 fritters
- 8 zucchini blossoms
- 100g (3-1/2 oz) ricotta
- 1 heaping Tbs of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
- 1 egg
- 2 heaping Tbs flour (about 20g)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) milk, or as much as you need
- Olive oil for frying
Trim the zucchini blossoms of their green base, then let the stamens drop out from inside the blossoms. Cut the trimmed blossoms into strips.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the ricotta up until soft, then add the grated cheese, eggs, flour and salt. Mix together, then whisk in enough milk so you wind up with a smooth, pourable but not runny batter. Fold in the cut up blossoms so they are completely covered in batter. Let rest at least 15 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat enough olive oil about 1cm (3/8 inch) deep until hot but not smoking. Add dollops of the batter by heaping spoonfuls into the oil and fry until cooked through and golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.
Once done, drain the frittelle on paper towels. Serve while still warm.
Zucchini blossoms don’t last very long. Perhaps that’s why they’re not sold in supermarkets? Ideally, you should cook them the same day you buy them. But you can extend their useful life by a few days by storing them in the fridge in air-tight containers between layers of paper towels. And even if your blossoms have wilted a bit, making them well nigh impossible to stuff, they will do just fine for this recipe.
The most iconic recipes for frittelle di fiori di zucca omit the ricotta from the batter. But I like it. Not only does the ricotta add lovely flavor that complements the zucchini blossoms perfectly, but it produces a batter that’s lighter, more delicate and, for those who care about such things, a bit lower in carbs. Classic recipes often lighten the batter another way, by leavening it with yeast. The batter is left to rise for a couple of hours before frying, producing a quite puffy fritter rather than a flat pancake. You can use this recipe for frittelle di zucchine and just substitute cut up blossoms for the shredded zucchini.
Zucchini blossoms, ricotta and eggs can also be baked in a pastry crust to make a lovely torta salata or savory pie, but that’s a recipe for another day.
Frittelle di fiori di zucca
- 8 zucchini blossoms
- 100g 3-1/2 oz ricotta
- 1 heaping Tb parmigiano-reggiano freshly grated
- 1 egg
- 2 heaping Tbs flour about 20g
- 60ml 1/4 cup milk or as much as you need
- olive oil for frying
- Trim the zucchini blossoms of their green base, then let the stamens drop out from inside the blossoms. Cut the trimmed blossoms into strips.
- In a large mixing bowl, mash the ricotta up until soft, then add the grated cheese, eggs, flour and salt. Mix together, then whisk in enough milk so you wind up with a smooth, pourable but not runny batter. Fold in the cut up blossoms so they are completely covered in batter. Let rest at least 15 minutes.
- In a large skillet, heat enough olive oil about 1cm (3/8 inch) deep until hot but not smoking. Add dollops of the batter by heaping spoonfuls into the oil and fry until cooked through and golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.
- Once done, drain the frittelle on paper towels. Serve while still warm.
i’m very surprised that Eha says they are easily obtainable in aussie supermarkets. i don’t think i’ve ever seen them in my life!!
Hmmm… maybe different cities have different produce? Only a guess of course!
Questi Frittelle di fiori di zucca sono incredibili! Ho usato zucchine dal giardino di mia madre per una migliore esperienza. La tua ricetta è stata molto facile cucinare, grazie!!
Grazie a te Danielle per il tuo commento!
These looks amazing as always, Frank! And yes, we only ever eat zucchini flowers when we grow them ourselves. My mother never stuffed them. She dipped them very simply in a light egg and flour batter. One of my fav treats! I adore frittelle of any kind. On the weekend, I used all the greens out of the garden to make some. So delicious!
They are really tasty, aren’t they?
We were the same way in New York with zucchini blossoms – I think the only way we got them was literally from picking them off our zucchini plants in the garden. 🙂 I suspect Asheville might have better sources for specialty food, but we haven’t had a chance to go wandering the local farmer’s markets yet. It’s on the list! And if I stumble across zucchini blossoms, you better believe I’ll be pulling this post up again!
Growing your own zucchini is really the best option but unfortunately for us, our backyard is too shady… 🙁
I’d be interested to know if you can find the blossoms in your new area. Seems to be a common issue.
Frank, like all your recipes, concisely and well written, and came out wonderfully. Farm stands near me in NJ accommodate my fanaticism for these flowers. Gracie.
Great to hear, Alex! And thanks so much for the kind words about the blog. 🙂
OMG I love this, missing zucchini blossoms. Back in the Philippines we can easily find them but here they are not usually available in supermarkets so need to find someone who grows them.
I just don’t understand why they can be so hard to find, Raymund! You can find them easily in some countries, and not in others. Just doesn’t make sense to me…
I only had a zucchini blossom recipe once or twice – and I’ve never made it myself. Indeed, I see occasionally them in our grocery stores, but the price is ridiculously high 🙂 Anyway, these fritters look terrific, and combined with delicate ricotta, I bet they’re ultra delicious!
Yep, those zucchini blossoms do cost a pretty penny! Again, not sure why if zucchini itself is reasonably priced. And they both come from the same plant… Thanks for the kind words, Ben. I do hope you try this out.
My favorite way to eat them is stuffed with mozzarella, anchovy and battered and deep fried. But this is a wonderful alternative. I don’t grow zucchini anymore, so it’s hard for me to get these beauties now.
I’m in the same boat, Linda. That’s why I run out and buy some whenever I hear they’re available somewhere!
Fiori di zucca are my favourite summer food! I love them any possible way. I make my frittelle similar to yours. I also add some minced basilico just because it’s summer and it’s available 😋. Ciao, Cristina
Sounds like a nice touch, Cristina!
How very interesting . . . and spring and zucchini blossoms are almost around the corner. The blossoms hereabouts are certainly seasonal but both they and large numbers of enticing recipes are then available everywhere. I buy mine on line but all the local supermarkets would be able to supply ! I have never seen them separated from their parent base . . . perchance hereabouts the green parts are larger ? Am not for fried foods but shall certainly remember this when the spring brings flowers . . .
You’re so lucky to live in a place where sourcing zucchini blossoms isn’t a challenge, Eha! I’m jealous!
This is another I will make as soon as I can find the blossoms! I will check with my farmer friend to see when I might get some. (I will plead and whine and tell her, “I only need eight…”)
Ha! God, we’re reduced to begging… And yet they were so easy to find back in Italy. And Eha here tells us in Australia, too. And Mexico. That tells you it shouldn’t be impossible. So why don’t we get to have nice things?
Well, happily, we got the nice things this week, and I made these on Sunday! Just exquisite. Mine didn’t look as nice as yours — sorry, no photos this eeek — I should have sliced the flowers into smaller strips — being a bit long, they looked like small stacks of straw. But the flavor? Amazing! The texture was also really nice — slight crunch on the outside and cheesy-creamy on the inside. Am getting more blossoms this Sunday for more fun! Thanks for a lovely recipe.
You have to grow them, Frank! I love them soooo much!
Indeed, and I would grow them if I had the sun light for it… We had tons back in Rome.
I never see these in supermarkets either — mainly farmer’s markets. Or people’s gardens. 🙂 There’s a restaurant about a 20 minute walk from my house where they have zucchini plants out back just for the blossoms. Talk about fresh! Anyway, I’ve only cooked with them a handful of times, and never made pancakes. I will, though, next time I have some. Thanks!
Yep, I envy the folks who grow their own. We used to back in Rome, had more zucchini and flowers than we could handle, in fact! But now, alas, our yard is too shady for a vegetable patch. 🙁 Anyway, this does make a nice change from the usual stuffed and fried rendition. Definitely worth a try!
I’ll make this as soon as I can source some fresh blossoms! Thank you for all the wonderful recipes over the years – what a great way to memorialize someone you loved!
Thanks so much, Mark, for the kind words!
Absolutely gorgeous! A perfect accompaniment to an al fresco summer brunch. I’m heading to an iconic farmer’s market today, hopefully they’ll have some!
Good luck, Eva!
I have a sad looking neglected zucchini plant in my garden because I am gone most of the time . I will definitely try this recipe if I get enough zucchini blossoms.
Growing your own zucchini is the best way to have a ready supply of blossoms! Too bad our backyard is just too shady…
A friend of mine is growing zucchini and I went round to cook a fish barbecue at her place last week. I was going to stuff, batter and fry some of the blossoms, but ran out of time making allioli, then cooking monkfish, bream, squid and prawns. These look delicious – I will be passing on the recipe to my friend.
Thanks, MD. Hope your friend enjoys it! And that fish barbecue sounds delicious…
I’m sure these are very good, but there’s just something keeping me from trying them. And I know what it was. During my mother’s LONG Chinese cooking phase, she cooked some Tiger Lilies, and it was one food that made me feel sick (the other being uni). I can still remember the texture of the flowers… I won’t go into detail. I know one day I’ll have to try these and I’ll be kicking myself for not having done so earlier.
Ha! It’s funny how those early experiences can mark you for life. I have a friend who to this day won’t touch cabbage due to a traumatic encounter with the vegetable at boarding school… Anyway, thanks for your comment, because TIL that tiger lilies are edible! If I had only known earlier! We have some in the backyard. Too late now, however. They’ve already dropped their blooms. Maybe next year…