Zucchini Flowers

I love the excitement and anticipation that comes with the change of a new season. There is something so sweet about Spring. The days are slowly becoming longer, the temperatures are becoming milder and the daffodils and ranunculus are beginning to poke their delicate little heads out from the soil.  

Nothing says Spring like the bright-golden petals of a zucchini flower!  Do not be put off from their uniqueness, in fact the flowers of zucchinis are a delight and can be made into so many versatile and delicious dishes.  

Why try:
The edible yellow, orange, and green flower of the zucchini plant is delicious raw or cooked.  Zucchini flowers have a pleasantly tangy flavour!  The female variety has a thick stem, which will eventually turn into a squash, whilst the male flower has slender stems.

When in season:
Best in Spring.  These delicate flowers will be around the Markets until Autumn.  

How to pick:
When choosing keep an eye out for fresh-looking zucchini flowers that are still closed and not wilted or shriveled. If the baby zucchini is attached to the flower, it should be firm, slender and glossy green.  Pick the brightest flowers available.  

How to store: 
Zucchini flowers are perishable and are best consumed within one day of purchasing.  If you have to store the zucchini flowers, wrap them between damp paper towel, seal in a plastic bag and keep in the fridge.  

Ways to cook zucchini flowers:
Stuff zucchini flowers with a mix of fresh ricotta, grated parmesan and basil then roast or fry until golden.
Dip zucchini flowers in a light tempura batter and shallow fry in vegetable oil until golden. Serve with lemon wedges and sea salt.
Drizzle a tray of zucchini flowers with the baby zucchini attached with olive oil, season and roast with cherry truss tomatoes. Sprinkle with crumbled feta to serve.
Add chopped zucchini flowers to a risotto or pasta dishes.
Incorporate into a yummy tart, like the one below!

Zucchini Flower and Prosciutto Ricotta Tart

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed 
1 cup fresh ricotta
8 slices prosciutto, torn
4 yellow squash, thinly sliced
6 zucchini flowers, halved and stems removed
1 tbsp lemon thyme leaves
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Parmesan, finely grated, to serve

To make
Preheat oven to 200°C.  Score each pastry sheet with a 1cm border. Spread the ricotta within the border and top with the prosciutto. 
Place the tarts on a large oven tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed. 
While the tarts are cooking, place the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix to combine. 
Top the tarts with the squash, zucchini and lemon thyme. Drizzle over the balsamic dressing. Sprinkle with finely grated parmesan, sea salt and pepper.  Serve with a fresh garden salad.  

Serves 4