Crab-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with Basil Sauce & Watercress Salad

Zucchini blossoms, the golden flowers on the end of baby zucchini are one of the nicest things about summer. So bright yellow they almost look orange, they are nearly irresistible to farmers market shoppers. Yet it seems many people don’t know what to do with them once they’ve bought them. They’re great simply coated with a tempura batter and deep fried, I often like to stuff them with a mixture of ricotta and aromatic vegetables to add an extra “surprise” but this version with a crab salad stuffing and a panko coating is just as delicious. The other good news is that there is no deep-frying involved.

On a side note, the zucchini plant produces both male and female flowers and I know you’re just dying to know how to differentiate them. A female squash blossom has a squash embryo directly behind the blossom. It looks like a small squash forming on the blossom stem. But a male blossom has only a thin stem behind the blossom. So yes, you guessed it. Those are boys.

Zucchini blossoms are best used soon after they are picked. If you need to store them, keep them chilled and loosely wrapped in a plastic bag and be sure to put them where they won’t be crushed by other produce. Those are precious things. Treat them as such.

The crab salad is great on its own and contains a mixture of cornichons, capers, herbs, lemon and a little mayonnaise. You could prepare the blossoms ahead of time if you have guests. Stuff the blossom with the crab salad and coat them with flour, egg and panko bread crumbs and keep them in the refrigerator until dinner time. It takes about 5 minutes to cook the zucchini blossoms and complete the dish once you have everything prepared.

The dish is finished with a light basil sauce and what could be better than a salad of thinly sliced baby zucchini and patty pan squash with young watercress leaves dressed with a lemon vinaigrette to go with it. Enjoy!

  • Zucchini Flowers stuffed with Crab

    • Serves 4
    • For the crab and zucchini blossoms:
    • 1 lb jumbo lump crab meat, picked through for cartilage
    • 5 cornichons, chopped
    • 3 teaspoons capers, chopped
    • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
    • 2 teaspoons chives, chopped
    • 2 teaspoon chervil, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
    • 5 basil leaves, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • 4 tablespoons Mayonnaise
    • Juice and grated zest from 1/2 lemon
    • Few drops of Tabasco or Yuzusco
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 8 to 12 zucchini blossoms, pistil removed
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
    • a few tablespoons olive oil
    • For the basil sauce and salad:
    • 1 bunch basil, leaves only
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
    • 1 tablespoon creme fraiche
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 cups young watercress leaves
    • 6 baby zucchini, thinly sliced on a mandoline
    • 6 patty pan squash, thinly sliced on a mandoline
    • 3 piquillo peppers, thinly sliced
    • juice from 1 lemon
    • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
  • For the crab and zucchini flowers:
    • In a bowl, combine the crab meat, the cornichons, capers, shallots, chives, chervil, parsley, basil, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper to taste, and a few drops of tabasco. Combine with a fork.
    • Gently open the zucchini flowers with your fingers and remove the pistil. Stuff about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the crab salad inside each flower.
    • Place the flour, the beaten egg and the panko in 3 separate plates. Take a stuffed zucchini blossom and roll it into the flour, the egg, and the panko and place on a tray. Repeat with the rest of the stuffed blossoms.
    • When ready to serve, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan. Pan-fry the blossom over medium-high heat until golden. About 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towel and season with salt. Serve immediately with the basil sauce and the watercress salad.
    • For the basil sauce and watercress salad:
    • Place the basil leaves, the mayonnaise, the creme fraiche, and the lemon juice in a blender and blend until you obtain a smooth green sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
    • In a bowl whisk the lemon juice, the shallot, the mustard and the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    • In a bowl combine the watercress, the sliced baby zucchini, the sliced patty pan squash, and the piquillo pepper. Dress the salad with the lemon vinaigrette and serve immediately with the stuffed zucchini blossoms.
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  • Haumea

    I hope to find some blossom tomorrow Stephane at Farmer’s Market after work tomorrow. Can’t wait to try it.  

  • Thelittleloaf

    Courgette flowers are one of my favourite things in the world, but surprisingly hard to come by in London except really good markets. I had some stuffed with salt cod at l’Anima recently, but the idea of crab inside is divine. Bookmarking this post, and your lovely blog :-)

  • Melody Fury

    Those are stunning!  I love how crispy and light they look, in comparison to those drenched in batter. mmm!

  • Jodi Reinman

    These look absolutely delectable! Thank you!

  • Rose

    These look amazing!  I have to look for the zucchini blossoms next time I see a farmer’s market…

  • Frank Fariello

    Those blossoms are so beautifully fried. And keeping them so perfectly intact is really impressive! 

  • kitchenriffs

    Beautiful!  I love the idea of the crab stuffing.  And I particularly like no deep frying required – it’s so messy, all that oil to deal with.  Alas, my zucchini fell prey to aphids this year so I have to blossoms – male or female! – to cook with.  Need to check my local farmer’s market for them.  Good post – thanks.

  • Kristen @ The Endless Meal

    These look absolutely amazing! Thank you for sharing the recipe, and the tip on using panko instead of deep-frying them :)

  • marcus

    😉 great minds think alike… i just picked a few courgetteflowers from my own little garden and made a frittata with fresh green beans and the zucchine flowers… your pics look (as always) stunning and i will definitely try this, this week! Finally a great recipe without ricotta and tempura 😉

  • Navyblue214

    wow these look absolutely stunning!

  • Mallory @

    Found this via Foodgawker. Looks spectacular- I know what I’m looking for at the farmers market this week! 

  • Vicki @ WITK

    These look delicious and I love the addition of crab to the filling and that they aren’t deep fried!  Beautiful pictures too.

  • giffc

    Damn that looks good :)

  • Lori Lynn

    Delightful! So summery! Love the colors and textures. Good to know it only takes a little oil to pan fry these beautiful blossoms, plan to try it out! Merci!

  • Francine Godoy

    This dish looks fantastic! Bravo again!! :o)

  • CCUinMTL

    These look great! I’ve gotta try this…

  • Claudiapruett your site! You can use 5 Minute Focaccia Mix from A Tavola Together to make tempura batter. Use 1 cup of mix and 1 cup of ice cold sparkling water. 

  • JC

    I made this past weekend.  They were delicious (didn’t have cornichons, though).  Light, crispy, wonderful.  Of course mine didn’t look as beautiful as yours, the taste was complex, yet subtle.  Thank you for sharing – awesome photography, as usual.

  • Lori Lynn

    Hi Stephane – congrats on being featured on DailyBuzzFood today! YAY!

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  • Tamás Rostás

    Hi! I’m from Hungary. We have a zucchini flower season on. We made this fantastic food, the only difference, that we changed the salad to tomato salad. We love it!