Zucchini blossoms are delicate by design, exquisite to eat, and pleasurable to paint.
But today I didn’t just paint Mother Nature…
I tampered with it.
Really, it wasn’t my fault – the birds and bees were busy elsewhere. I shamelessly did the bee’s dirty work as I hand-pollinated the zucchini flowers with my artist’s brush.
Painting with pollen helps facilitate fruit to mature. And yes, botanically speaking, zucchini is considered a fruit, even though we treat it like a vegetable.
This tampering all came about when I couldn’t figure out why I had so many blossoms, yet very little fruit. Traditionally, zucchini live by the “be fruitful and multiply” decree, so I embarked on an Internet voyage to navigate the secret sex life of squash. Flowers are a plant’s sex organs – the provocative colors and aromas exist for one purpose… procreation. For all of you who are rolling your eyes, you obviously skipped biology class that day.
To help nature along, I first had to identify the male blossoms from the female. This is harder than you might think! One was slender with a frilly skirt, the other looked more masculine, anatomically speaking. But no, it was the opposite. Guess it’s time to order that Biology for Dummies book.
But once I looked inside the flower, it all became very clear. I plucked out their private parts in preparation for my culinary delight.
No matter which sex, both flowers are edible. Visually, females are more delightful… of course. They are also more expensive… naturally. Some things hold true in all aspects of life.
Today’s Featured Recipe:
I am constantly inspired to try unusual produce when I go to the farmer’s market. Zucchini blossoms have been my cherished selection so far. All summer long I have been stuffing blossoms with diverse ingredients. This recipe comes to you after much trial and error, and is my personal favorite so far.
I find the best sausage to use is fresh, and I prefer Aidell’s chicken sausages. They can be purchased at your local grocery store or online. This mild chicken sausage complements the delicate flavor of the flower, and is simple to work with.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small zucchini – diced
- 10 -12 zucchini blossoms
- 8 ounces fresh chicken sausage – approx. 2 links
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – grated
- ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 garlic clove – diced
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Brush the inside of a 20 x 12 baking dish with 1½ tablespoons of oil .
- Open the flower and remove the pistil/stamen.
- Skin the sausages, remove the meat and crumble into a mixing bowl.
- Add the chopped zucchini, egg, cheese, breadcrumbs, and garlic – mix well.
- Carefully open each flower and insert a little of the sausage mixture into each flower – twist to close.
- Arrange the flowers on the baking dish in rows. Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remainder of the oil.
- Bake until the flowers and stuffing are cooked, about 15 – 20 minutes.
- Place flowers in rows on a serving platter and serve hot .
You can also make this dish by sautéing the stuffed flowers in some extra virgin olive oil. I find almost anything goes when it comes to all the great flavors of sausages that are available now. Have fun with it.Hope you enjoyed plant sex education 101, as well as learning to make a fabulous new dish.
…and then, she paused for thought.