Delicious, fragrant Greek stuffed squash blossoms with lots of herbs, juicy veggies, and rice are one of my absolute favorite summer foods.
As a child, I spent my summers in Chania, Crete. I loved watching my grandma make these amazing stuffed blossoms with ease & great skill.
The flowers would be harvested from my uncle’s vegetable garden in the morning. She would fill them with a mix of herbs, rice, and juicy grated tomatoes. Then they would simmer in low heat for an hour or so and would be served as a delicious summer lunch for the whole family to enjoy. The taste was light and so fresh.
What Are Squash Blossoms & what do they taste like?
The blossoms are the edible flower of the squash/zucchini plant. Their color is bright yellow with green and white striations. They can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked. The blossoms need to be gently washed with cold water before any consumption. They have a delicate squash flavor and a velvet-like texture.
Did you know that there are Female & Male Squash Blossoms?
How to Tell Difference:
Squash produces male and female blossoms on the same plant. Both male and female flowers are necessary for successful pollination.
Female blossoms usually grow close to the center of the plant. Female squash blossoms have a squash fruit at their base.
Male squash blossoms have long skinny stalks and are all over the plant. There are more males than females, and they begin blooming earlier.
Male flowers are usually the ones to harvest for use in delicious dishes worldwide so that the females can set fruit.
Where to find Squash Blossoms
If you are fortunate to have a backyard or garden and live in the right climate, you can always grow your own :-), just like my uncle did in Crete. It was such a gift to be able to walk down the garden and pick fresh zucchini blossoms.
If you are like me, living in an apartment in a big city, you can typically find them at farmers markets or local specialty grocery stores starting in June and through the summer. You really have to keep an eye for them and ask at the farmer’s market or store early in the season if and when they’ll bring them in. The fresher the blossoms, the better they taste. They are really fragile, so it’s best to buy the flowers stored in appropriate containers that keep them from smashing into each other. They are highly perishable and are best used within a day of buying.
How to cook the blossoms the Cretan way
This stuffed squash blossoms recipe is fairly easy to make, and as long as you find fresh blossoms in your local farm stand, success is guaranteed. I also find that it is a meditative experience to wash and dry the blossoms, then fill each one with the light-as-air rice mixture.
Detailed measurements and instructions can be found on the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
1. Place the blossoms on a kitchen towel. Gently open the blossom and cut the little stem inside, using kitchen shears or a sharp pair of scissors. Cut the outside stem also. Fill a large bowl with water and place it next to the blossoms.
2. Emerge each blossom into the water, give it a small swirl for a sec and take it out. Shake it very gently and place it on the kitchen towel to dry.
Mix all filling ingredients in a large bowl. (If you are using the San Marzano tomatoes, place them in a bowl first and squish them with your hands to get all the juices out and turn them into much smaller pieces). Season with salt and pepper.
3. Gently open one squash blossom and, using a small spoon, place some of the mixture inside.
4. Close each blossom petal in a criss-cross pattern if you can. Wrap the last petal carefully under the blossom and place it on a large pot.
5. Repeat filling the rest of the blossoms, placing each in a circular motion inside the pot. Make sure they snuggly fit with each other. Add 2 cups of water.
6. Place a plate upside down on the blossoms to lock their position. Simmer in low heat for 1 hour. Gently lift the plate (careful, it’s hot!) to check if they are fully cooked.
The Greek stuffed squash blossoms are best enjoyed with a fresh yogurt sauce. Just cut up some herbs, mix them with Greek yogurt, add a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil, and voila, the yogurt sauce. Or you can make tzatziki, the fantastic garlicky dip that Greeks swear by.
Tips and tricks
- Do you have a farmer that can supply you with the blossoms? Ask him if they can bring you the male zucchini flower, those that end up in a stem and not in the zucchini itself. The male flowers are open at the top, like a funnel, tender and flexible and therefore ideal for filling. Sometimes they are sold in bunches, like bouquets. But if you can’t find males, choose the more tender, smaller female flowers.
- If you do not use the zucchini flowers immediately, keep them for 2-3 days as follows: Without washing them, carefully remove the stem inside each flower. Place one flower inside the other, just like the ice cream cones. Wrap the flowers in paper towels or a paper bag and keep them in a cool and dark place.
Greek Stuffed Squash Blossoms
- 40 squash blossoms
- 2 cups long grain rice uncooked. I use Carolina.
- 1¼ cup zucchini grated
- 1 cup potato grated
- 2 cups onions finely diced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups tomatoes grated , skin and seeds removed or 28 oz San Marzanno tomatoes like Gustarosso
- 1 cup fresh mint chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley chopped
- fresh ground pepper
Prepare the blossoms
- Place the blossoms on a kitchen towel.
- Gently open the blossom and cut the little stem inside, using kitchen shears or a sharp pair of scissors. Cut the outside stem also.
- Fill a large bowl with water and place it next to the blossoms. Emerge each blossom into the water give it a small swirl for a sec and take it out. Shake it very gently and place it on the kitchen towel to dry.
Make the filling and fill the blossoms
- Mix all filling ingredients in a large bowl. (If you are using the San Marzanno tomatoes, place them in a bowl first and squish them with your hands to get all the juices out and turn them into much smaller pieces). Season with salt and pepper.
- Gently open the blossom and, using a small spoon, place some of the mixture inside. Close each blossom petal in a criss cross pattern if you can. Wrap the last petal carefully under the blossom and place it on a large pot.
- Repeat filling the rest of the blossoms, placing each in a circular motion inside the pot. Make sure they snuggly fit with each other. Add 2 cups of water. Place a plate upside down on the blossoms, to lock their position.
- Simmer in low heat for 1 hour. Gently lift the plate (careful, it’s hot!) to check if they are fully cooked.
- Serve with your favorite yogurt sauce.
- This recipe is for 40 blossoms but you can easily cut it in half for 20 blossoms. An average portion is 5-6 blossoms.
- If you have leftover mixture you can just cook it on the stove (add a little stock if needed), add your favorite protein et voila! Dinner is ready.