Tempura Zucchini Blossoms Filled with Radish and Herb Cream Cheese

Morning walks through the garden reveal the delicate yellow-orange flowers of the zucchini plant, open to the dew and cool morning sun. A couple snips with a pair of sharp scissors and I have a few blossoms in hand. I never need to worry about the squash not growing, there will be plenty more. 

In another garden row, there are the green tops of radishes, looking to be pulled free from the earth. Once above the ground, I love the ruddy violet pink of the rounded root vegetable. These aren't the spicy kind that decorated salads as a kid. They still carry a bite, but it's lighter, more palatable.

On the trek back through the garden toward the cozinha, I stop by the softly clucking chickens and grab an egg or two from their nest and it's off to the herb garden. In it grows fresh oregano, a few varieties of mint, a small basil plant and thyme. Thyme is the one I want, it's mild and plays well with others.

Now that my garden shopping is done, it's time to check the refrigerator for another ingredient; smooth cream cheese. Off to the pantry next, to gather the last couple of ingredients, that will make this all come together. 

It's time to get down to business; gently washing, mincing, mixing, stuffing and cooking. 

All of it leads to this once delicate blossom becoming something I've never had before. Something with a satisfying crunch on the outside. Inside that first bite there's the creamy fresh herb filling with subtle peppery bites of radish.

When the first is finished, I go for that next blossom. And the next.

Zucchini Blossoms filled with Radish & Herb Cream Cheese
Recipe for Tempura from Saveur
Serves: 4
  • 12 zucchini blossoms
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 radish
  • 8oz (approx 230g) cream cheese, softened
  • pinch of salt
  • Tempura batter 
  • flour for dredging
  • oil for frying 
  • sea salt for salting
Place a bowl in the freezer big enough to hold your tempura batter.

Clean the zucchini blossoms by gently opening the flower and checking for small bugs. With a damp paper towel, brush off any debris. 

Thoroughly wash the radish and thyme. Pat the thyme dry with a clean kitchen towel and remove the stem. Trim the top and root from the radish. Mince both the radish and thyme on a cutting board and toss into a bowl.

Add the cream cheese to the bowl and season with salt. Mix thoroughly with a fork.

Gently open the zucchini blossoms, careful not to tear them if possible. Hold the petals open with two fingers and with a small spoon, gently (I cannot stress this enough), fill the inside of the zucchini blossom with the cream cheese mixture. Make sure to leave enough room to gently twist the tips of the petals to close the flower and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the blossoms.

In a deep pan, heat 2 inches (about 5cm) of oil to 360F (182C) or when a piece of bread (1 inch) takes a minute to brown.

While waiting for the oil, prepare the tempura batter in the chilled bowl. 

Place the flour in a shallow dish and dredge the blossoms in it, shaking off the excess before dipping each blossom into the tempura. Immediately place the blossoms into the hot oil. Cook until the blossoms become golden brown and the bubbles are larger and less frequent. Should be only about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer each blossom to a plate lined with paper towels to drain of excess oil with a slotted spoon or tongs.

If preparing in batches, allow the heat to come back up to 360F (182C) before doing another batch.

Sprinkle the blossoms lightly with flaky sea salt to taste.

Serve these little beauties alongside a fresh garden salad, fresh fish or just by themselves.


thyme Sarah said...

What beautiful photos you have here. I don't follow anyone from Portugal so I cannot wait to see the culture through your writing and photography.

Rochelle Ramos said...

Thank you Sarah! I'm looking forward to sharing with you :D

skaterina said...

i love squash blossoms too / how do you deal with squash bugs ?

Rochelle Ramos said...

Skaterina - I've been fortunate to not have any in my garden (or at least not yet!). I looked it up though and found a webpage you might be interested in checking out at http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05609.html . Hopefully that can help you!

Roz Corieri Paige said...

I am Italian and have been blessed by a family that has been preparing fried zucchini all of my life. Now that I have a garden of my own, I enjoy this precious delicacy. Your photos are absolutely beautiful and I am now happy to be following your blog since I have just found it!


Roz Corieri Paige said...

Do you have an email subscription link to have your posts delivered via email? Thanks,

Liz Berg said...

Stunning photos!!! I remember eating squash blossoms for the first time in Tuscany...I wish I could find them around here to try your recipe. They look heavenly.

Liz Berg said...

These remind me of my first taste of squash blossoms in Tuscany! Yours are stunning...and I'm certain as delicious as they are beautiful!!!

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Rachel Cotterill said...

They look great. I'm sure I wouldn't be able to stop after just one :)

Karen @ HonestlyYUM said...

OMG these look gorgeous. I fell in love with squash blossoms in Mexico and they're a rare thing, even in LA. I'm always on the hunt for them!

claudia lamascolo said...

Here from Nancys congrats and well deserved photo winner wow! just awesome! cheers.. Claudia

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Refined and scrumptious! I love that shot of the eggs.