My little garden has been a challenge.
As you know, I have ZERO garden talent. However, one day back in May, I threw four zucchini seeds in four pots…and lo and behold, they GREW. I felt all-powerful.
….one plant withered and died before growing past a seedling.
….one plant grew leaves! And then was chomped by the dreaded “vine borer” bugs.
(evidence of the vine-borer punks)
….and then there were two.
They grew, they flourished, they produced flower after flower.
I had hope! (and recipes!)
AND YET….NOT ONE ZUCCHINI GREW. Literally, not ONE.
I went to the oracle (random friends at a cookout); and I was told in no uncertain terms if there were flowers but not fruit, then my zucchini was not pollinating properly, aka I didn’t have bees. Hmm, OK – what does one do if there is a lack of bees? “You’ll have to pollinate them yourself” a friend said with confidence (and beer in hand).
Wow. Ok. Zucchini pollination. Basically, the boy zucchini have to “talk” to the girl zucchini to get the fruit party started. DID YOU KNOW THAT YOUR ZUCCHINI HAVE BOY AND GIRL PARTS? Note, this is why I’m a writer and not a botanist.
So, I put on some Barry White, poured everybody a glass of red wine and tried to get the boy zucchini to talk to the girl zucchini. For the technical side of this, go to a reliable source, (not me). Spoiler alert: it involves a Q-tip.
Despite the sweet garden lovin’ environment I provided, still no zucchini. Sigh.
Though nary a zucchini grew, I got tons and tons of zucchini blossoms (before the vine borers got these last two plants too, and I admitted zucchini defeat).
I decided to turn the squash blossoms into frittata and forget I ever wanted zucchini in the first place. Just making some zucchini lemonade here.
I love the bright, herbal almost sweet taste they add to dishes. They literally taste like summer to me. For this recipe, I paired the delicate blossoms with fresh sweet basil, salty ricotta salata and punch of lemon zest to produce this summery frittata.
Squash Blossom Frittata with Ricotta Salata and Basil
6-8 squash blossoms
1 handful fresh basil (roughly 1/4 c.)
4 oz ricotta salata (or feta cheese), crumbled
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tbs Italian seasoning (or a few pinches of oregano & thyme)
Sea Salt, Black Pepper
2 tbs butter
Harvesting your blossoms: Pick male blossoms (the female are the ones that produce fruit, ALLEGEDLY). Learn to identify the boy parts on zucchini here. You can pick the blossoms open or closed (they are only open in the early am). Check for little bugs and remove. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
Pre-heat oven to 350.
Rinse basil and pat dry. Roughly chop and set aside. Thinly slice zucchini blossoms lengthwise. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until foamy, sprinkle in a pinch each of sea salt and black pepper, whisk again. Stir in ricotta salata. Fold in basil, blossoms and lemon zest. Gently combine.
In a heavy oven-safe skillet, over med-low heat, melt butter (coat up the sides of the skillet as well). Slowly pour in egg mix. Allow frittata to set-up in the skillet (resist the urge to stir).
Once the edges start to look firm, transfer frittata to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until frittata is set in the middle (i.e. doesn’t look wet or wiggle when you gently shake the pan).
Remove from the oven. Allow frittata to cool in skillet slightly. Then cover skillet with a large plate and gently flip frittata out of the skillet onto the plate, and using another plate, flip to right-side up. Or simply slice and serve from the skillet. Serves 4. Serve alongside a salad and some fresh bread.
You won’t even miss the zucchini.