Cooking With Zucchini Blossoms

There's nothing as wonderful as a salad or entire meal prepared with vegetables lovingly grown in your own garden. Watching seeds and tiny plants blossom into beautiful bounties of the earth is one of the most rewarding summertime pleasures. At the end of the zucchini plant grows a lovely yellow flower which is, believe it or not, edible! In fact, the flowers of the zucchini are absolutely delicious deep-fried or sautéed.

If you are gathering from your own garden, pick only the male blossoms that grow on thin stems (the females have a small zucchini forming at the base of the flower) or you'll have no zucchini crop. The luscious orange-yellow blossoms of zucchini are extremely perishable, so if you do not grow them, you are likely to find them only in those markets that handle local, seasonal produce. If you are the type of person who likes to use every part of a vegetable and not waste a morsel of your homegrown goodies, then these are the recipes for you.

Crisp Zucchini Blossoms

1. Wash the blossoms rapidly under cold running water without letting them soak. Gently pat them dry with a soft cloth or paper towel.

2. Remove the stems and make a cut on one side of each blossom's base to open the flower flat, butterfly fashion.

3. Combine 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 egg, salt and pepper (to taste). Mix with a fork until it has the consistency of pancake batter. (For a different taste, dip flowers in an egg and milk mixture and use bread crumbs instead of the flour mixture).

4. Pour enough oil in a frying pan to form a pool that is ¾ inches deep and turn the heat to high. When the oil is very hot, dip the blossoms in the batter and slip them (only enough to fit loosely) in the pan.

5. When the flowers have formed a golden brown crust, turn them over and fry the other side.

6. Transfer to a cooling rack to drain or to a platter lined with paper towels, using a slotted spoon.

7. Sprinkle the flowers with salt and fresh ground pepper, serve immediately for best taste.

Zucchini Blossom Omelet

Use the crisp blossoms as an omelet filling, adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

Zucchini Blossoms with Scrambled Eggs

Sauté blossoms and incorporate them into the eggs about midway through the cooking process, allowing 2 blossoms per serving.

Cheese Soufflé with Zucchini Blossoms

Incorporate sautéed blossoms into the sauce base for a Parmesan cheese soufflé, before mixing with the egg whites.

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