Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms (Kolokythanthoi Yemistoi)
Stuffed zucchini blossoms make a simple delicious appetizer, or a light meal inspired by the season. They are a favorite dish among many European countries Greece included and are often stuffed with a fragrant rice and meat mixture. Meat in the stuffing is optional and both ways yields delicious delicate stuffed blossoms. I stuffed these similar to the way I would stuff dolmades or stuffed grape leaves and my stuffed peppers. They are so good and you just don’t want to stop eating them.
What are squash blossoms?
Squash or zucchini blossoms/flowers are the edible flowers of the squash plant and usually come in yellow and orange shades. They are a delight to eat. They are delicate and taste reminiscent to young zucchini and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked.
How do I pick them and which ones do I pick off my zucchini plant?
There are male and female flowers. Both the male and female zucchini flowers can be picked and consumed, the male ones win out because only the females grow fruit or zucchini. You can pick off most of the male flowers from the zucchini plant. Each plant will produce lots more male flowers than is needed so harvest these, leaving just one or two for pollination. The male flowers have long thin stems with no fruit growing at the base of the flower. Early to mid morning is the best time to pick them while the flowers are fully open and easier to remove the stamen and easier to stuff. Cut the stems about 3cm below the base of the flower. The ones on stems won’t turn into fruit; taking the flower off the fruit won’t hurt the fruit - just let the flowers get big enough to make sure you’re not picking off fruit with it.
How do I store my zucchini blossoms?
Zucchini flowers are delicate so remember to handle them carefully and they also have a short shelf life of just a couple of days. (The ones I used in this post were half from my garden and half from the grocery store. I bought them in great shape but after a day they were already starting to look sad. Although wilted with some far gone edges, after a little trim they were still delicious- ugly produce is still delicious and I salvaged most of them.) After picking them place them immediately in your refrigerator to cool them down or if using them right away, sprinkle them with some chilled water or immerse them in cold water to clean them, then dry them gently with a paper towel. Then just pinch out the stamen in the middle of the blossom and they are ready to eat or prepare for cooking.
How do I eat zucchini blossoms?
Zucchini blossoms are very versatile. The flowers can be stuffed with rice, ricotta or minced meat (or a combo of all) and then cooked in the oven or lightly fried. They can also be lightly battered and deep fried for a crispy version stuffed or as is. They can also be steamed. They are great chopped and added raw to salad or pasta and can be cooked into a pasta sauce as well. You can add them so soups, risotto, omelettes, frittatas and even on pizza. You know that I love to stuff everything and the same went for these blossoms. You also know I have an aversion to deep fried things and love the overall flavour of baking them rather then steaming them so I baked mine until the edges were crisp. Just delicious! I chose not make these with meat so it’s a simple butter herbed rice that is good enough to serve as a side and perfect in these zucchini blossoms. If you wanted to add some meat to these you can - from ground lamb to chicken you can use whatever you would like. I would limit it to ½ lb for the amount of squash blossoms in this recipe. Just brown the meat with the onions and garlic and continue the recipe as is.
I love this filling with or without the meat added and if you don’t have squash flowers to fill you can fill zucchini with it instead. You just need to slice the zucchini in half and remove the seeded parts (should be able to stuff 4-6 small zucchini) Stuff and I would definitely add some extra cheese over the filling. Then bake. They may require a little extra time in the oven until the zucchini is tender, but a delicious option for leftover filling or if you can’t get your hands on zucchini blossoms. I have a special place in my heart for zucchini blossoms and am really happy to have enjoyed a few from the garden this year in this recipe and a few fresh in my salad.
Servings: Serves 4 for a light meal or more for an appetizer
Prep Time: 15-20 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total time: 55 mins
- 12-16 zucchini blossoms/flowers
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp (can do both butter or both olive oil)
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 cup of rice (your choice- I used a mixed long grain rice with wild)
- 1 small tomato grated or finely chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup of fresh herbs of choice (my fav combo is parsley, dill and mint)
- 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
- ¼ cup of grated mizithra cheese or Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup toasted and chopped amonds or pine nuts optional
- Heat butter and olive oil in a small shallow pan on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and pan fry until onion is softened and translucent. (Add ½ lb of ground meat if using and brown along with the onion and garlic until cooked through)
- Add the rice and toast stirring it for a minute. Then add the chopped tomatoes, lemon zest, herbs and broth and allow to come to a simmer. Give everything a good stir and turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer until rice is tender and just about cooked through.
Stir in the mizithra and almonds or pine nuts if using and allow to cool 10-15 minutes before filling the blossoms.
- Prepare the zucchini blossoms
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Submerge the zucchini blossoms in cold water to remove any dirt. Remove inner pistil and stamen using your finger or a knife. Once rinsed, place them on a paper towel lined plate and set aside to drain. Pat dry before using.
- Once ready to fill, carefully fill each blossom with 2-3 teaspoons of the mixture. Fold the open end of the blossom inward and turn underneath, or gently twist petals closed and place in a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all blossoms are filled and placed in a single layer in the dish
- Drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden
- Serve warm or cold as an appetizer/mezze or a light meal.