Looking for new zucchini recipes? This season deep fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese are one of my new favourites. I’m also enjoying zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) and dehydrating zucchini slices for use during winter.
It stuns me how one plant in the garden can be so prolific. The good old courgette, or zucchini, produces a steady stream of veg from Christmas right through to late February in our garden and while the first few are much awaited and delicious, after a while you do tend to dread their arrival on the kitchen bench.
One plant is plenty for most gardeners. I’ve tried different varieties over the years, yellow, stripey, round and even two tone. But I keep coming back to the Italian heirloom variety Fiorentino which produces beautifully flavoured, firm zucchini and is consistently prolific. Costasta Romanesco is another good Italian one that Kings Seeds stock.
They are easy to grow, need a bit of room, they don’t run like pumpkins but keep sprouting leaves from a central crown that can end up taking up a good square meter in the garden. Plant in rich soil and keep them well watered at the base. Try and keep the leaves dry to avoid fungal diseases. To keep them fruiting keep picking them.
For stuffing zucchini flowers, pick the blossoms in the morning or the evening when they have closed up. The flowers kind of twist themselves closed which makes them easier to stuff as they hold the filling in. Evening is good if you’re having them for dinner because freshness is all with this dish. Once picked the flowers really need to be used on the same day.
You can pick little flowers where the zucchini hasn’t formed and flowers with small zucchini’s attached that you can chop off to use later. Don’t pick any flowers that are brown on the end or in the center.
Mix up some ricotta cheese with chopped basil, mint and some lemon zest. Put about a teaspoon of the mix in each flower, not ripping the flowers, so they’re not over stuffed, and fold the ends of the flowers together. Set aside while you make a bowl of batter.
Mix 1/2 a cup of white flour with a teaspoon of baking powder and enough beer or water to make a medium-thick batter, too thin and it will run off, too thick and they don’t go crispy. Heat an inch of oil in a small saucepan with straight sides until it is hot but not smoking. Dunk the stuffed flowers into the batter one at a time until well coated and cook them one at a time in the oil until they’re golden and crispy. Put them on a paper towel in a warm oven to drain while you cook the rest.
To make your own homemade ricotta like this check out our Soft Cheese Kit. I made this batch 30 minutes before stuffing the flowers. It is such an easy cheese to make. Serve them up with wedges of lemon and a green salad. Stuffed Zucchini blossoms are one of those special recipes that you’ll cook once a year when you’ve got a rampant courgette plant in the garden that you want to slow down. It is well worth trying.
Drying courgettes in an electric dehydrator is also a handy way of processing a glut for use later in the winter months. They don’t take long to dry and are beautiful added into risottos with mint and parmesan cheese or in casseroles and soups.
You can also make zucchini noodles or “zoodles” by slicing your zucchinis through a mandolin. You only need to put them in a colander and pour boiling water over them to blanch them and then dress them with a mix of mint and sesame oil or a dressing of your choice. A bit of chilli is nice too.
And if all else fails … feed them to the sheep.
Hope ewe are more amused than her 🙂