ITALIAN ZUCCHINI FLOWER RECIPES
Maybe it is because they are only in season for a few weeks a year, or perhaps because of how delicate they are to prepare. Possibly it is because they just so pretty. But the most likely explanation as to why Italians go crazy for ‘Fiori di Zucca’ is that they are just so delicious!
Strangely, they are not known in Italian as ‘zucchini (courgette) flowers’, but as ‘pumpkin flowers’. However, we have learnt that a zucchini flower by any other name tastes just as sweet!
Some ways to prepare these delicacies include coating them in a light beer* batter and frying them. They can also be stuffed first with a delicious ricotta stuffing for extra mmmmm.
Alternatively you can make a delicious pasta dish or crostini recipe. Slice up some fresh zucchini into rings, to be lightly cooked in a non-stick pan with a good dose of extra virgin olive oil. If you are keen on keeping colds (or vampires) away, or just like the taste, throw in a few cloves of garlic which you then remove before serving. Be extra careful not to let the zucchini brown as you cook over a low heat. Whilst the zucchini is in the pan, pull the hard base and stamen out of the flower then carefully slice the zucchini flowers into long thin strips with a sharp knife. Once the zucchini pieces are nice and soft, turn off the heat and throw in the zucchini flower strips and cover with a lid. The flowers will soften in the residual heat. Sprinkle with a good grating of pecorino cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. This makes a delicious and light pasta sauce recipe that is great for vegetarians, or served over slices of Tuscan bread that have been slightly baked in the oven to heat.
One secret to cooking perfect pasta is to strain the pasta, then throw the pasta back into the hot pot. Pour in the topping/sauce, and mix over a very low flame for just a minute to let all the flavours amalgamate. Taste for seasoning and then serve nice and hot!
For a simple zucchini flower risotto, cook the zucchini as above. Once cooked, throw in your risotto rice and let it toast for a few minutes. Next, you will need to ladle in hot vegetable stock, one scoop at a time. As the rice absorbs the liquid, add in a little more stock. Once the rice is cooked (Italians like it to still have a little crunch about it and not be completely soggy), stir in pecorino cheese and season to taste. Serve immediately.
To learn to make delicious, typical Italian recipes before indulging in a delicious meal made by you, we have hands-on cooking classes in Florence and Cooking Classes in a Tuscan Villa.
* If you can think of a better use for your beer, as an alternative you can also use sparking mineral water. It’s the fizz that makes the difference.