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Pasta With Zucchini Blossoms Recipe

Pasta With Zucchini Blossoms Recipe

Years ago we traveled to Italy with my parents, Triton’s mother, and my brother Chris on a tour from Venice all the way down to Sicily. While in Rome, we stopped into a little trattoria near the Vatican for lunch. I ordered the most amazing pasta dish made from zucchini blossoms and a touch of saffron. When I asked my mom to recreate it back home,  she made up this Pasta with Zucchini Blossoms recipe. And for you vegetarians in the crowd, this one is meatless!

cooking with zucchini flowers

Fresh from the farmers market, zucchini flowers are slightly sweet and so delicious.

Zucchini blossoms have become more popular recently, popping up in restaurants across the country. We particularly love the Stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms at Cucina Urbana in San Diego, made with lemon ricotta stuffing. But seldom have I seen these blossoms featured in a pasta dish other than in Rome (and my mama’s kitchen).

While shopping at the farmers market recently, I found an organic produce stand selling zucchini blossoms. The woman working the booth said she has not seen them sold elsewhere, and she had convinced her family members to sell the blossoms while in season. I readily bought up two baskets full, eager to make my mom’s version of this pasta favorite.

sliced zucchini rounds with flowers

I used a mandolin to slice the zucchini, but any old knife will do.

This is a very subtle dish. The blossoms give this pasta a fresh garden flavor, and the saffron and thyme add something almost sweet in taste – almost. Combined with the cream sauce and cheese, the end result is surprisingly simple and light.

Pasta with Zucchini Blossoms Recipe

Since zucchini blossoms are seasonal and only available in late Spring and early Summer, be on the lookout for these gems. These are typically the flowers stemming from the plant that do not have a squash attached. Combined with fresh pasta (we get ours from Assenti’s Pasta in San Diego), this dish is out of this world!

Pasta With Zucchini Blossoms

Years ago we traveled to Italy with my parents, Triton’s mother, and my brother Chris on a tour from Venice all the way down to Sicily. While in Rome, we stopped into a little trattoria near the Vatican for lunch. I ordered the most amazing pasta dish made from zucchini blossoms and a touch of saffron. When I asked my mom to recreate it back home, she made up this Pasta with Zucchini Blossoms recipe. And for you vegetarians in the crowd, this one is meatless!

Course Main Course
Keyword Zucchini
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion sliced into thin strips
  • 3 small zucchinis cut into rounds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 small lemon grated zest
  • several saffron threads crushed
  • fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 - 15 zucchini blossoms trimmed and halved lengthwise (I bought 2 baskets and came home with 16)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb fresh pasta we prefer linguini for this recipe
  • 1 1/2 cups grated romano cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Boil large pot of salted water for pasta, but don’t cook it until the last minute because it will only need 1-2 minutes. Fresh pasta cooks f-a-s-t!

  2. Combine 1/4 of the olive oil with onion, zucchini, salt and pepper, and cook until tender – about 3-4 minutes tops. Stir in the vegetable stock, lemon zest, saffron and thyme and heat until just bubbling. Adjust heat to low and add cream and zucchini blossoms, mixing gently as blossoms wilt.

  3. Cook pasta al dente and drain, immediately returning pasta to the pot and adding butter, 1 cup of cheese and the other 1/4 cup of olive oil. Stir and spoon into bowls. Ladle zucchini blossom mixture over pasta and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Add a pinch of parsley on the top and serve with crusty bread and a nice glass of Italian rosato (rosé).

Just like in Rome! Or at least in my mama’s kitchen.

 

happy senior couple on gondola in Venice

Mom was proud of her Italian heritage, and we were able to visit Italy as a family for a grand tour.


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Italian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

My mom was a resourceful cook, creating delicious meals with limited resources. She grew up in a poor family of Sicilian immigrants, and learned to cook from my nana by adapting recipes from the Old Country to more modern American ingredients. Mom taught me many of her secrets, and I’m happy to share with you one of our family favorites – Italian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe.

preparing globe zucchini for stuffing

Any type of zucchini can be used, and we like globe zucchinis because they look so cool.

 

Summer is the perfect time to make this dish, since zucchini is in abundance at farmers markets and backyard vegetable gardens. Although you can make this recipe with any type of zucchini, I found the globe zucchini variety at our local Little Italy Mercato. They are fun to hollow out and use as natural cups to hold all the cheesy goodness.

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Start with four good size zucchini. Whether you have globe zucchini or the regular type, hollow them out like you would a pumpkin at Halloween. Set aside the insides – we will use them in the recipe.

stuffed globe zucchini

Hollowing out globe zucchinis, we stuff them with a mixture of sausage, mushrooms, cheese and other goodness.

 

Mom would plop the hollowed zucchini in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes to soften them. I have skipped this step once or twice when making this dish. It really depends on whether you want to enjoy the finished product with a knife and fork, or more softened like a casserole.

Gather the following ingredients:

  • 4 zucchini (globe or regular)
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage (best freshly made from the butcher)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 medium (or 1 large) portobello mushroom, cubed
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (mom made her own but who has time for that?!?)
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (I used a mix of Italian cheeses readymade from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup romano cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • 2 tbs chopped basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

portobello mushroom ingredients

Any mushrooms can be used in this recipe, and we prefer portobellos for their flavor and flair.

 

Take the sausage out of its casing, crumble and fry in a pan with oil, onions and garlic. Add mushroom and insides of zucchini, cooking until just tender. Combine the sausage mixture in a bowl with bread crumbs, egg parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Stuff the zucchini until heaping, and place in a greased baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 125-30 minutes or until tender.

caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes

As a nice side dish, we love to serve sliced heirloom tomatoes topped with buffalo mozzarella and chopped fresh basil.

Serve with a dash of parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of fresh basil.

 

rototilling the vegetable garden 1971

Mom was willing to tackle anything when I was growing up, including this rototiller sesh getting our vegetable patch ready for planting zucchini and more.