Zucchini blossoms were ever present in our home growing up, and believe me they weren’t considered chic or mainstream in those days. Generally, Italian American families had a summer vegetable garden with tomatoes, zucchini and basil taking center stage. Zucchini was a relatively easy vegetable to cultivate and the delicate flowers were picked early morning and reserved for frying later that day. Depending on what was on hand or the particular mood of the cook they were sometimes stuffed beforehand.
A few years back I came across a recipe in the New York Times by Melissa Clark in which the blossoms were stuffed and served nudo or naked, without frying. Although I had served uncooked zucchini blossoms in salads or when garnishing a dish, I had never given a thought to serving them raw in this way.
After fiddling with various iterations of the original recipe, Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms became a summer staple at Casa Levitt. Of course we still love fried blossoms with a delicate crunch of a crust, but this version eliminates the frying and is absolutely delicious in its own right.
If you do not have an orto or summer vegetable garden, generally your local weekend farmer’s market sells the blossoms. I always prepare them the day that they have been purchased, I mean no one wants to eat a wilting blossom.
Fresh ricotta of the highest quality makes all the difference when filling the zucchini flowers. Draining the ricotta in a sieve overnight helps rid it of water, leaving a richer ricotta.
My mantra, few ingredients but the best you can find always. Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms are a perfect summer accompaniment to a glass of chilled white wine at sunset. So what are you waiting for…
- 8 fresh zucchini blossoms
- 4 whole anchovies or 8 anchovy fillets
- 8 ounces of ricotta, drained overnight
- Large flake sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Drain the ricotta but placing it in a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl, placed in the refrigerator overnight.
- Trim the long stems from the blossoms as need be.
- If using whole salted anchovies, gently rinse and brush the residual salt from the fish and lay on a clean paper towel to drain. Using a pairing knife remove the fillet from each side and place them on a saucer. Drizzle a bit of Extra virgin olive oil over the fillets and set aside.
- Check the blossoms for any residual dirt or insects, handling them carefully; gently brush off with a clean cotton cloth if necessary. Cut a slit in the top of the blossom lengthwise.
- Open the blossoms delicately as you spoon enough of the drained ricotta evenly into the center. Season with a bit of freshly ground black pepper and just a touch of the sea salt. Lay an anchovy fillet on the center, partially closing the flower just a bit.
- Arrange the stuffed blossoms on a serving platter and drizzle any remaining oil from the anchovies over them along with a bit more extra virgin olive oil if you like.
- Serve immediately with a chilled glass of Italian white wine.