This delicious summer dish of Rice-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers is full of sweet flavors and herby-lemony aromas.
This Greek Stuffed Zucchini Flowers recipe is using light white rice filling flavored with herbs and lemon to stuff the flowers. Which are then baked slowly in the oven covered. Until there is only olive oil left in the baking dish.
Which Flowers To Use?
The best flowers to use for stuffing are male zucchini flowers/blossoms. They have a wider opening at the top as you can see in this article here. Female ones are more rounded at the bottom and can be used also. But they are more closed at the top so you have to carefully open them first.
You can also use squash blossoms for stuffing. They're the same thing. The zucchini and squash are in the same plant family so their flowers are pretty much the same.
How To Prepare Them?
To prepare the flowers you have to remove the stem from the inside. Then soak for a minute or two. Hold each flower carefully from the bottom and shake it gently to remove excess water. Then let it dry on paper towels or a clean tea towel. Handle the flowers carefully as they are very delicate, especially the male ones.
The rice filling is made with long-grain white rice, white and spring onions, garlic, grated zucchini, freshly grated tomato (for added sweetness), lemon, and fresh herbs (dill, parsley, spearmint).
Making The Filling For Zucchini Flowers
To make a delicious filling for the zucchini flowers you need to saute the onions and garlic in a pan with olive oil over low heat. Slow-cooking the onions will make them nice and sweet a flavor that matches the flowers so well.
Then you saute the rice in the same pan followed by the grated zucchini and tomato. And finally, off the heat you mix in the herbs, lemon juice, and lemon zest. And the filling is ready super simple!
Baking Zucchini Flowers
The important thing is for there to be some kind of cover, so the flowers don't come in direct contact with heat. Also, being baked covered ensures steam is kept within therefore cooking the rice.
And to create that steam you add a small amount of water or vegetable stock to the baking dish. By the end of baking time, there should be only olive oil left. And the flowers will look nice and mellowed.
Resting this food for at least 30 minutes is very important for the flavors to bind and become even stronger.
In Greece, we serve these Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with either a piece of feta cheese or a scoop of Greek yogurt. If you want a side for this dish go for baked lemon and oregano potatoes.
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
For The Zucchini Flowers:
- 10 zucchini flowers
- 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup water or vegetable stock
For The Filling:
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 100 grams white onion finely chopped
- 85 grams spring onion minced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 75 grams zucchini grated
- 100 grams (½ cup) long grain white rice like Carolina
- 180 grams (1 medium) tomato grated skin discarded
- 1½ tablespoon fresh dill finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
- ⅔ tablespoon fresh spearmint finely chopped
- ½ lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Prepare The Zucchini Flowers:
- Carefully remove the stems from inside the zucchini flowers. Dip them in batches in a bowl filled with cold water and let them soak for a minute or two. Then hold them from the bottom and shake them gently. Transfer on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
- Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F.
Make The Filling:
- Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the white onion, drop the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 10 minutes. Until it gets really soft and caramelized.
- Add the spring onion and garlic. Raise the heat to medium-high. Cook for 2 minutes more.
- Stir in the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes. Squeeze the grated zucchini a bit to remove excess water and add to the pan as well. Cook for a minute and add the grated tomato. Cook for 2 minutes more.
- Take the pan off the heat. Stir in the fresh herbs and ½ lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Make The Stuffed Zucchini Flowers:
- Stuff each zucchini flower with about 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of the filling. This will depend on the size of the flowers. Make sure you fill the zucchini flower only by half.
- Drizzle the 7 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice on top of the flowers. Season with salt and pepper. (See Note 2 below).
- Pour ½ cup water (or vegetable stock) into the dish.
- Cover with aluminum foil securing it well all around.
- Bake for 1 hour and a half then uncover the dish and bake for 10 minutes more to give some color on the top of the flowers. Remove from the oven.
- Let the food stand for about 30 minutes before serving this enhances the flavors even further. If you prefer you can leave it inside the oven with the door open.
- Serve with a piece of feta cheese or a scoop of Greek yogurt.