Zambolis apartments

Zambolis apartments
For your holidays in Chania

Monday, 22 September 2008

Fried zucchini flowers (Κολοκυθοανθούς α λα ιταλικά)

The weather has cooled down in Hania so much that I find I have more energy to get things done around the house and garden. It is now not so much of a chore to work with the brown soil under my feet, even if it is a little muddy.

(a very confused sky)

We planted a new group of zucchini plants about a month ago. They have been producing on a regular basis, but I now nip them in the bud rather than letting them become giant marrows. At the same time, I'm collecting more and more zucchini flowers on the stem (not the ones attached to the zucchini themselves), the so-called male flowers, probably because I'm in the garden so frequently and I can see them.

zucchini flowers storing zucchini pumpkin vine flowers

I've also seen these flowers growing over-profusely elsewhere too, in my neighbour's garden, but not on zucchini plants; he grows pumpkin, a not so popular vegetable for human consumption in Greece, but it does apparently make good animal feed, as well as the vine providing shade for other summer garden produce which is growing in an overexposed location.

The variety of squash that my neighbour's planted grows in the same way as do courgette plants, except that pumpkins are always vines, whereas our zucchini plants are more like lateral bushes, much shorter than a vine-growing plant. The flowers they produce are more plentiful, but smaller than those of courgette plants. They look exactly the same as zucchini flowers, and they can be cooked in the same way. It is difficult to tell them apart once they've been cut away from the plants.

pumpkin vine flowers pumpkin vine flowers
(I picked some flowers from this pumpkin vine today and left a few on it to pick later - alas, by the time I returned, the flowers had all closed up again, as they do when the sun stops shining, or it is late in the morning; believe it or not, I had picked all the blossoms the day before! In any case, they'll open up tomorrow...)

The flowers look fragile, but they are actually very resilient. Pick them from the stalk, cut away the (usually five) spiky bits at the base of the flower, and remove the dusty yellow pistil. Wash them well (well-camouflaged insects are probably hiding inside them). Once they are dry, they can be stored for up to a fortnight, one flower inside the other, in a plastic bag or air-tight container (take care not to squash them), or used in a meal.

The Italians use zucchini flowers in a variety of ways. In Crete, they are mainly turned into dolmadakia rice parcels, but as I have a lot of these flowers at my disposal at the moment, I've decided to use them Italian-style, as a simple fritter.

fried zucchini pumpkin vine flowers

For the batter, you need:
1 egg
3-4 tablespoons of flour
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to season

Mix the batter ingredients until the mixture is smooth and runny. This mixture will be enough to fry about 15-18 flowers. Heat some (preferably) olive oil in a saucepan. Make sure it's really hot, then dip the flowers in the batter, one-by-one, drain off the excess batter, and toss them into the very hot oil. Cook them in two batches rather than one, because the temperature of the oil will decrease if you add them altogether, making them oil-soaked rather than dry and crispy. Turn them over once to brown on both sides, then use a slotted spoon to drain them out of the pan. Transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. They are best served hot.

fried zucchini pumpkin vine flowers

These flowers tasted very much like their parents: fried zucchini. They were accompanied by fried rabbit and an aromatic Greek salad to which I had added some rocket leaves; my summer purslane weed has now given way to autumn rocket in the cooler weather (though I did need to sow it, whereas purslane grows without any help at all).

For a more dramatic look, keep the stalks when frying them, as Laurie did, so that they can be picked up by the stem when eating them. I simply don't have enough room in my fridge to do this.

This post is dedicated to Priscilla, who still found the time to blog and update us on what happened to her home when Ike visited; spare a thought for others like her who have lost their kitchens from the havoc wreaked by nature itself.

This is my entry for Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.


  1. The fried flowers look great. I'll have to try that next year. This year I've been so overwhelmed with our new experiences.
    I love pumpkins and could kick myself for not asking my family to send me seeds! First, Halloween is near and second...I love pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread.
    It's very kind of you to dedicate this post to Priscilla. Although I don't personally know anyone in the coastal areas, I can't take my mind off all of the people suffering from the wrath of Ike.

  2. These look fantastic and as a tsikoudia mezze.

  3. I can never get enough zucchini flowers! I've been making good use of your tip of stacking them one inside the other to store and am really happy with how well it works. Raising pumpkins for animal food - hmm - maybe you can nab one for yourself. I'm with Cheryl - they can be very tasty eating.

  4. Ahhhh I thought my family were the only ones to fry those. Love them but haven't had them in over 25 years.

  5. You fried this to crisp perfection..great idea using the pumpkin flowers too!

  6. I've never heard of the flowers being cooked before - what a great idea - waste not want not!!

  7. How yummy. It's so amazing that you planted another batch of zucchini. You are a dedicated gardener. Here, if I had zucchini, which I don't because my garden is tiny, we would be so tired of it that we wouldn't bother doing more.

  8. You know - I saw these in the grocery store...I swear, one day i'm going to get some of these and do just what you did.


  9. Hi Maria! Can I invite myself over to have some of these? They look PERFECT! I love that big pan you cooked them in, and the beautiful platter you served them in. I didn't know that you could store them so easily in the fridge. I'm so impressed that your plants, that only went in the ground a month ago, are providing so many flowers already! Things grow much slower where I live. Your dinner sounds so good!

  10. I finally tried these on the island of Kea. Everywhere I went in Greece they were always sold out in the restaurants. I haven't found a source here yet and the farmers did not bring them in to the market. I was disappointed:( I guess maybe I'll have to move out of the condo and back to a house with a garden:D

  11. You're really making me wish I'd grown zucchini this year. These look great!

  12. Looks great! I should have pulled more squash blossoms instead of hoping they'd turn into squashes (which they didnt!). Then at least I could have enjoyed these fried blossoms.

    I wonder, would butternut squash blossoms taste like butternut squash?

  13. I can tell you have a lot of good dinners at your house. I've only had fried zucchini flowers in restaurants, but your look perfect!

  14. I have tasted fried zucchini flowers once in a Greek restaurant and I loved it! However, it is not a common ingredient here. So, I can only drool at your pictures! :)

  15. A friend of mine, Tony from Italy who is no longer living, used to make this, but his were very flavorful from garlic and I don't know what else.
    I wish I did, because they were so delicious !

    Thank you for the recipe, I think I will experiment with it to try to make something that tastes like his.
    He was going to show me how to make it when he came back from his yearly trip to see family in Italy, but he died over there.

    Organically Yours,

    P.S. I am going to add your link from this recipe to my recipe page here:

    My readers will love it !

  16. που πουλάνε στα Χανιά κολοκυθοανθούς?

  17. τωρα, πουθενά! μόνο στην αρχή του καλοκαιριού

  18. Dear Maria,

    I discovered your blog a fortnight ago at the start of my three-week-holiday. It is an absolute treasure, not just in terms of culinary inspiration, but also in terms of popular culture. I warmly recommended your blog to my (mostly German) readership and enjoy reading your musings daily.

    On the topic of fried zucchini flowers, I first tried milk-based pancake batter which turned out far too heavy for the flowers to develop that crispness I so fondly remembered from Italian holidays. Tonight I tried your water-based batter and the flowers turned out perfectly!

    Also, I owe you thanks for the advice on how to store them stacked into one another – previously, I hurried to spread them out while still fresh so they wouldn't need uncurling later – you saved me a lot of hassle there!

    Kind regards
    Kathrin from Dresden.