Squash Blossoms 

Fiori di Zucca – Ciuri i Cucuzza 

 

For a short period of time, when the harvest of the summer and winter squashes is at its peak, squash blossoms are available in great quantities.

 

Fiori di zucchini

 

Fiori di zucca are a delicacy offered and cooked in every part of the world: the Greeks fill the blossoms with feta cheese and cook them in tomato sauce; the Chinese deep fry them and serve with a fish sauce; in Japan, squash blossom are fried in a tempura batter and served with their traditional dipping sauce; in Mexico la sopa or la quesadillas de flor de calabaza are very popular dishes; every country has its own way of serving and preparing these delicious squash blossoms! 

    

In Sicily and the rest of Italy, squash blossoms are offered in all vegetable markets, and housewives cook them in various ways. In season, they are part of every restaurant menu as an appetizer, as a condiment for pasta or made into a frittata as a nourishing entrée or side dish.  

 

The most popular way to prepare the squash blossoms is to fry them, stuffed or plain, and coated with flour and eggs or a light batter. 

 

In Palermo, the ciuri i cucuzza, in most cases, are simply stuffed with a piece of young cheese and fried after being dipped in eggs or batter. 

 

Serves 6 as Appetizer 

INGREDIENTS  

 

· 12 zucchini flowers (squash blossoms) 

· ½ lb Caciocavallo or mild young cheese 

· 3 filleted anchovies, cured in oil (optional, but recommended) 

· 1 cup flour 

· 2 eggs 

· Canola oil for frying 

· Salt and pepper 

· Chopped parsley for garnish 

 

PREPARATION  

 

The Flowers 

Inspect the blossom for any foreign matter; gently open the petals and remove the stamens or pistils; then proceed to carefully rinse well in cold water and transfer onto a baking tray lined with paper towels. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside.

 

Squash Blossoms

 

The Filling 

Cut the cheese into thin strips, the size of a pencil and 1 ½ inches in length. Set aside. 

Split each anchovy into 4 pieces and set on the side. 

 

The Assembly 

Insert into each flower a strip of cheese and a piece of anchovy; continue until all flowers are stuffed. 

 

The Frying 

Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl and pour the flour into a wide container. 

In a heavy skillet, warm up ½ cup of oil over medium heat and prepare to fry the flowers 3 at a time. Sprinkle a few pinches of salt in the oil to reduce splashing. 

 

Dredge 3 flowers into the flour and thoroughly coat on all sides. Then transfer into the bowl with the eggs. Taking one flower at a time, remove from the eggs and shape into an oblong form, twisting the petals close so the filling will not come out. Move them to the hot oil. 

 

Fry the blossoms, cooking for about 1 minute on each side or until golden and crunchy. 

 

Use a slotted spoon to remove the fiori di zucca to a baking tray lined with paper towels, lightly sprinkle with a pinch of salt and set on the side. Repeat until all flowers are fried.  

Serve warm or lukewarm and garnished with chopped parsley. 

 

Variations  

Stuffing 

Stuffing can be made with small pieces of diced mozzarella cheese or by filling each flower with 2 teaspoons of a mixture of ricotta, grated cheese, toasted breadcrumbs and herbs and spices. Alternatively, the flowers can be filled with goat cheese, eggs, onion and spices or with a mixture of Italian bread minus the crust and soaked in milk, a few tablespoons of heavy cream, anchovies, parsley, oregano and salt and pepper. 

 

Or simply prep and fry the blossoms in a light batter without any filling. 

 

 

Stuffed Squash's Blossoms

 

Frying or Baking 

Squash blossoms can also be coated in a pastetta, a light batter of flour and eggs and fried; or they can be prepared like cutlets, dipped in eggs and then coated with breadcrumbs and either fried or baked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes until golden and crispy.