|One of our zucchini growing at the base of a female flower.|
The trick is knowing the difference between male and female zucchini flowers. You don't want to pick the female flowers, because those are the ones that produce the zucchini. The male flowers are there for pollination purposes and end up drying up and falling off, so they are the perfect candidates for being picked and eaten. While you don't want to pick all of the male flowers (you need pollination to occur), you can pick most of them.
Simply put, one way to tell the male and female flowers apart is that the male has a regular stem, while the female has a small bulge at the base of the flower. (For more detail on distinguishing the two from each other, go here.)
While I do love to make pancakes with the flowers, last year I discovered an arguably more delicious way to enjoy the flowers: stuffed, battered and fried.
Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
8 zucchini flowers
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh minced herbs of choice
1-2 cloves minced garlic
salt & pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/8 cup milk
oil of choice
Gently rinse each flower and pat dry. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, minced herbs, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Taste the ricotta mixture to test the flavor. It should have a strong herb and garlic flavor. Place about 1 T of ricotta mixture inside each flower. Be careful not to overstuff.
Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, pour in the flour, and in a third small bowl mix together the eggs and milk. Carefully dredge each stuffed flower in the flour first, then the egg, then back in the flour again, and then place in the pan to pan fry on one side first, then gently flip to the other. A minute or two per side should be sufficient. They should be light brown and crispy. Serve immediately while still hot.