Before I traveled to Italy, I had no idea what a fried zucchini blossom was.
I was raised by a mother who grew, sliced, breaded and fried zucchini so much, it seemed like she was making a living from it and getting paid by the slice. Seriously, It seemed like her full-time job. As a result, I grew up hating zucchini.
The thought of anything zucchini related really turned my stomach. Except zucchini bread, which if made properly, tastes of sweet cake with not even a hint of zucchini flavor.
But as they say….when in Rome.
And it was in Rome where we sat al fresco at a little neighborhood trattoria on the Piazza Farnese, enjoying a glass of ice cold Frascati, when our cameriere informed us that fried zucchini blossoms were a special delicacy on the menu that evening.
How could I possibly disappoint the adorable waiter? We decided to indulge.
And though I can’t remember if they were stuffed or plain, I do remember one thing….I was so completely hooked.
As luck would have it, I was able to score a dozen blossoms at my local farmer’s market today.
For the life of me I can’t understand why they sell them sealed up tight in a plastic zip-loc bag, with the heat and humidity taking its toll and wilting them beyond repair. It is beyond my comprehension.
Subsequently, I had the impossible task of trying to clean, stuff and fry them, without shredding them into a pile of slimy orange mush.
But, beggars can’t be choosers. I decided to give it my best shot!
There are thousands of variations on the recipe. Some batters have egg, some do not. Some stuff the insides, others fry them as-is.
Here is my quick and easy recipe for Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms.
finely chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup flour
1 cup cold club soda
pinch of salt
Prepare the flowers. Clean out any dirt or insects from the inside of flowers. I leave the stamen in, but it is personal preference. I suppose if my flowers were just hand picked and I could easily retrieve them, I would take them out. Gently rinse in a colander and pat dry on towels. Cut stems to 1 inch.
Fill a heavy bottom cast iron frying pan with vegetable oil, about 1 inch deep. Heat to 360-365 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Put a good amount of ricotta in a bowl. Add remainder of filling ingredients to taste. Mix well. Fill a zip-lock back with mixture. Snip off a small piece of the corner. Slowly and gently, squeeze a small amount of filling into each flower (don’t overfill) and twist ends of flower to close. Place each on a plate.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, club soda and salt until combined. Add more club soda to thin if needed and form a thin crepe batter.
When oil is at the desired temperature, dip each flower into the batter. Coat completely. Let excess batter drain off and place gently into the hot oil. Repeat with each flower. Work in small batches of 3-4 at a time. No more than that in the pan, or the oil temp will drop too much.
Let each flower fry 30- 60 seconds and then turn with a wire spider. Fry on the other side until golden. Remove with the wire spider to a plate lined with paper towels.
Season each with additional salt. Continue until all flowers have been fried. Serve immediately.
Another interesting variation for the filling that I have tried is to stuff them with a slice of mozzarella and a whole basil leaf. That is wonderful, especially when served with some marinara for dipping.