My parents kept a beautiful herb and vegetable garden. It was so exciting to watch an empty back yard erupt into a plentiful harvest. Upon entering, every visitor always felt transported to Italy. Whether they were wandering among a hundred tomato plants, sitting under a canopy of grapes or just kicking back with a glass of red, they had that spiritual sense that they were being allowed to take part in something that I always considered timeless and priceless.
One vegetable that stands out above all others, is the huge (often 3 feet long) zucchini with its’ glorious yellow-orange flowers…Fiori di Zucca! My father would pick the male flowers in the morning before he went to work (the female flowers continue to produce fruit) and then spread them out on paper towels and refrigerate them.
Later that afternoon my mother would retrieve the zucchini flowers from the fridge, clean them, batter them and then fry them to a light crisp.
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup warm water
½ cup all purpose flour
18 zucchini flowers
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1 large clove garlic, diced
¼ cup grated parmesan
A shot of Sambuca (optional)
Vegetable oil for frying
- In a medium bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and warm water. Mix thoroughly. Gradually mix in flour, grated parmesan, parsley, garlic and Sambuca until you get a smooth batter. Set aside.
- Open the zucchini flowers and carefully remove pistils and stigmas and discard. Remove any wilted or green leaves and also remove the stem. Gently wash in cold water, and spread them out on paper towels to dry.
- In a large fry pan, add vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot; dip flowers in batter, one at a time, coating all sides, and carefully place in fry pan without overcrowding; fry for 3-5 minutes, turning frequently, until crisp. Drain on paper towels and eat at your leisure.
They are excellent hot, room temperature, or even cold!
* Note: This same batter is excellent for vegetable fritters, esp. broccoli or cauliflower. Some, denser vegetables may require longer cooking times so blanching is recommended before frying.