I had never even heard of frying a zucchini blossom, until I arrived in Italy that is. In fact, the thought of it left me somewhat indifferent. Thought it was a little weird.
But one night in Rome cured me of that indifference. I sat al fresco at a little neighborhood trattoria on the Piazza Farnese and our cameriere informed me that fried zucchini blossoms were a special on the menu that evening.
And somehow, the possibility of trying them, the way real Italians do, intrigued me. You know what they say, “When in Rome…”
Italians are famous for using all-natural, in-season ingredients and using every fruit, vegetable or animal in its entirety.
Zucchini is no exception.
The flesh can be used in pasta dishes, tossed into salads or sauteed with onions in a tomato sauce. The blossoms can be found throughout Italy and are usually fried. Each region has its own preparation. The south tends to fry them as-is, while Tuscany typically stuffs and then fries.
The stuffing varies. Fillings may include fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf, ricotta and herbs, or perhaps an anchovy or slice of prosciutto. There are differences in the batter as well. Some use an egg and others find egg makes the batter too heavy for the delicate petals.
Experiment. Try different things. Because no matter which batter you use, which stuffing you choose or which way you fry ‘em – you’ll be surprised how deliciously light and addictive they are!
Here is my quick and easy recipe for Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms.
Fiori di Zucchini Ripieni
Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
- ricotta cheese
- chives, minced
- parsley, finely chopped
- black pepper
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 cup club soda, chilled
- pinch of salt
- To prepare the flowers, clean out dirt or insects from the inside of flowers and remove the stamen. Gently rinse them one-at-a-time and pat dry on towels, being careful not to damage the delicate petals. Cut any long stems to 1 inch.
- Put vegetable oil in a heavy bottom cast iron frying pan- about 1 inch deep. Heat oil to 360-365 degrees on a candy thermometer.
- In a bowl, combine a good amount of ricotta and the remainder of filling ingredients to taste. Mix well.
- Fill a pastry bag (a zip-lock bag with the corner snipped-off would be fine as well) with the cheese mixture.
- Slowly and gently, squeeze a small amount of the filling into each flower (don’t overfill) and twist the ends of flower closed. Place one-by-one 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-like batter.
- As soon as the oil is at the desired temperature, gently dip each blossom into the batter. Coat completely. Let the excess batter drain off and place into the hot oil (please be careful not to burn yourself as the hot oil could splatter).
- Repeat with each blossom. Work in small batches of 3-4 blossoms at a time. No more than that in the pan, or the oil temp will drop too much and your blossoms will be soggy, not crisp.
- Let each blossom fry for 30- 60 seconds and then turn with a small wire strainer. Fry on the other side until golden in color. Remove with the wire strainer, let drain and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
- Season each while still hot with additional salt.
- Continue until all blossoms have been fried. Serve immediately.
original photos: recipe box by brighterworlds on Flickr, all the rest by Robin Locker (and may not be used without permission)
Robin is a freelance writer and European travel consultant specializing in France and Italy. Her passion for European culture and lifestyle is featured in her blog, My Mélange, which includes travel essays, photos, restaurant and hotel recommendations, struggles with learning the Italian language, and ideas on how to live La Dolce Vita from abroad. Travel Tip Tuesday is one of My Melange’s most popular features, offering readers ways to save time and money and to avoid stress while traveling.
Robin lives in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley with her boyfriend of 12 years and their adorable Westie, Madison. She hopes to add “expat” to her bio within the next few years, when she finally realizes her dream of living in Italy.