Zucchini flowers, stuffed with rice, summer veggies, and herbs

Aug 31, 2015


     Searching the Internet for some info on edible flowers, I saw some beautiful pictures of cakes and other fancy desserts decorated with, among other exotica, small blue and yellow pansies and chrysanthemum flowers. Did we always eat pansies on our cakes and in colorful salads or is it one more innovation from Noma (with its inventive kitchen) that has been immediately adopted by all of us?  
     Well, in fact, dried flowers have been used for thousands of years as spices in cooking or in herbal teas for medicinal purposes. Their use in modern cooking today as decorative edible ingredients is really a rebirth of this very old tradition.  Roses and zucchini- squash flowers have never stopped being used in cooking. 
     In Greece we make rose petal jam and we use zucchini flowers in different savory recipes.  When I was a child, whenever my mother made stuffed tomatoes, there would always be some space left in the baking pan for some zucchini flowers to be stuffed especially for me. Stuffing them with rice and summer veggies is still the most popular recipe.
     Today we make entire pans full of stuffed zucchini flowers for the restaurant; it is our most popular summer dish. In order to have as many flowers as possible available every day, we have planted zucchini plants of a climbing variety which can be counted on to produce the greatest number of flowers all across our garden fence. 
     They have to be picked early in the morning when they bloom, almost magically, for only a few hours. If you don’t have a vegetable garden of your own, you can look for them at your local farmer’s market. 

Zucchini flowers, stuffed with rice, summer veggies, and herbs

Since not all zucchini flowers are the same size, I will post a recipe for about 1kg of filling that you can multiply or lessen according to your needs. 

 A Tip: If you cannot find enough zucchini flowers in your garden each morning, you can cook the filling and keep it refrigerated for as long as  3 days and each day stuff those few flowers you find and store them with the baking pan in the freezer until the pan is loaded with a good enough batch to bake.

1 onion finely chopped
2 spring onions finely chopped
150gr olive oil+ some more for drizzling before baking
250gr zucchinis, grated
1 small ripe tomato, grated
1Tbsp fresh mint, chopped 
2Tbsps fresh parsley, chopped
1Tbsp. tomato paste
250gr round grain rice
Salt and pepper to taste
0,5litre boiling water

     Place the olive oil in a cooking pot over medium heat and, when hot enough, add the chopped onion and cook until wilted. Add the spring onions and zucchini and cook for 5 min or until the zucchini’s juices have been absorbed, whisking a few times in between.
     Add grated tomato, parsley, mint, tomato paste, rice and, finally, boiling water. Cover with a lid and let the filling cook for 5min, whisking a few times in between to prevent the rice from sticking at the bottom of the pot. 
     Season with salt and pepper, and then remove from the heat. Let the filling cool down completely before using it.
     Prepare the fresh zucchini -squash flowers to be stuffed by removing the stamen inside the flower with a round edged knife, being careful not to tear the delicate flower. Then cut the stems and wash each flower under running water. (See photo)

Stuff the flowers with two teaspoonfuls of filling for each flower. Turn the petals over the filling to enclose it and prevent the filling from escaping during baking. Arrange the stuffed flowers in the baking pan, one firmly packed next to the other, until the pan is covered in a single layer.
Pour enough tepid water to half cover the flowers, drizzle with olive oil, and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 40-45min until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature with Greek yogurt.


  1. An eternal summer favourite!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  2. Although I never tasted this, it stills looks captivating. Anyway, thanks for the share.

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  3. thank you for this recipe, it does look like the proper one! I just love stuffed courgette flowers ever since I ate them in Crete and when the season comes I will definitely try to make them :)

    1. Try them and I'm sure it tastes like the Cretan version you loved.