What’s a zucchini blossom?

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Like it or not, the floral trend isn’t just restricted to fashion.

Every once in a while, you might notice flowers popping up on trendy restaurant menus or in the pages of magazines – and they’re not part of the place setting. We’re talking about flowers on a plate.

You may have even noticed one such edible flower, the zucchini blossom, pop up in the April issue of Canadian Living, as part of a delicious Garlic Scape and Zucchini Blossom Pasta recipe.

And while we’re all familiar with the ever-popular and ever-abundant zucchini, many home cooks have never even touched the brilliant orange blossom that blooms from the summer squash’s head. That’s mostly because most major grocery stores don’t carry the beautiful bud, since its delicate nature makes it difficult to transport, and its shelf-life is brief.

The good news is, these sought-after blossoms are quite readily found at farmers’ markets beginning in July through early fall, and you can easily incorporate them into your weekly dinner lineup.

Their sweet, subtle, herbaceous flavour pairs wonderfully with both the fresh flavours of summer produce, such as corn and arugula, and the warm, comforting tastes of fall (they’re great stuffed with soft cheeses, such as ricotta, and baked).

The most popular way to eat the delicate flowers is battered and deep-fried, with or without a cheesy stuffing (always, always go with). However, zucchini blossoms can be enjoyed raw – as a garnish for salads and pasta – or cooked into summery pastas and soups. Because they wilt quickly, it’s always best to add them right at the end of the cook time to retain their flavour and colour.

Whether you’re a seasoned blossom-eater or are completely new to zucchini blossoms, this recipe, featuring the beautiful blossoms, is a must-try.

Get the recipe: Garlic Scape and Zucchini Pasta

Photography (from top to bottom): FlickrCC/FoodingAround, Jeff Coulson.