Oh zucchini! ”A joy in July or a joke in September!”
Truth is, what would summer be without zucchini and tomatoes fresh from the garden? Zucchini simply capture the green colors and flavors of summer. When fried alone, or stuffed and fried, they are marvelous as appetizers or for a mid-morning treat! A platter of fried or baked stuffed zucchini/squash blossoms is an everyday delight on Italian tables.
And with zucchini comes those beautiful buttery, yellow, golden blossoms that attract bees humming in bliss while stuffing themselves with pollen that blesses them from the interiors of each blossom!
To prepare garden-fresh zucchini/squash blossoms in a delicate veil of crispy batter is comparable to nothing on earth.
Here’s the link to my original post to learn about the very first method of using zucchini/pumpkin/squash blossoms . . . . frying them only. It is known in Italy has ‘pastella’, frying in a light ‘tempura-like’ batter that ends up in crispy, non-greasy fritters: Zucchini Blosssoms Fried in Pastella (Fiori di Zucchini Fritti in Pastella)
Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil Pesto (Fiori di Zucca Fritti)
For the stuffing:
1 Tbsp. canola oil for sautéing
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small – medium sweet (Vidalia) onion, minced
1/2 – 2/3 cup prosciutto, chopped
1 tsp. garden-fresh oregano, minced
1 tsp. garden-fresh thyme, minced
1/2 pound ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly-grated Italian Parmigianno-Regianno cheese (or Asiago)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
anchovies (optional: 1 per blossom)
1/2 pound garden-fresh spinach, washed, stems removed, finely chopped (optional – if you want spinach, add to the the original sauté mixture and cook it down until all liquid is involved)
15 – 30 zucchini/squash blossoms, freshly picked, rinsed in cold water, stamens and stems removed
In a large heavy pan, sauté’ the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened.
Add prosciutto, and all of the herbs.
Remove from stove and add this to all of the cheeses.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cut off stems and any green end of the blossoms.
Cut a slit through in between two blossom petals and open up each blossom to lay them flat on a platter or piece of parchment paper.
Remove the stamen.
Place a spoonful of filling in each blossom.
Roll up each stuffed blossom and press edges together.
Be careful not to let any filling ooze out of the blossoms.
May be refrigerated at this point for one day or fried right away.
1 cup water
2/3 cup flour
Note: Some cooks add an egg yolk as well as some baking soda/powder. I think that this is a good idea and will make your batter a little thicker if you like.
Put one (1) cup of water in a wide soup bowl and gradually add the flour through a sifter and CONSTANTLY beat the mixture with a fork until all the flour is added. The batter will have a consistency of sour cream.
Tomato Sauce (or use your favorite Marinara sauce):
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 large garden-fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional0
Saute onion in olive oil.
Add tomatoes, wine and tomato paste.
Cook uncovered, for about 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing mixture to cook until reduced and slightly thickened.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix together all ingredients.
Use your own favorite brand or the recipe on this blog by clicking on this link for “Fresh Basil Pesto”.
this is not a heavy batter, it is more like a Japanese tempura, very light
To prepare and fry:
Pat the blossoms thoroughly dry after harvestiing (they will most likely have some morning dew on the petals) . . . be gentle, they break easily.
If necessary, clean the zucchini blossoms with a gentle rinse of cold running water.
Pat gently to thoroughly dry on paper towels . . . careful, they break easily.
Cut off the stems.
Cut the base off of the blossom, cut one slit and then OPEN UP the blossom to be able to lay flat.
Pour vegetable or canola oil (not olive oil!!!) in a skillet up two 3/4 of the height of the pan sides.
In a large, wide heavy pan (or wok) heat the oil to the hottest you can without burning the oil – the temperature at which a drop of batter will drop below the surface, but then quickly pop back up to the surface.
When the oil is very hot, carefully dip each of blossoms into the batter, coat evenly.
Carefully place the battered blossoms in the hot oil.
Slip in only as many blossoms that will fit loosely into the skillet.
When a golden crust has formed on one side of the blossoms, turn them over to fry on all other sides until golden, about 3 – 5 minutes.
Watch the blossoms carefully.
Do not overcook.
Do not crowd any of the blossoms in the pan.
When all sides have a lovely golden brown crust lift out with a slotted spoon.
Place the hot fried blossoms on several thick layers of paper towels to drain, blotting with more paper towels or linen towels if necessary.
Sprinkle with freshly cracked sea salt before they are dry.
Serve hot immediately (with or without tomato sauce).
Dollop or drizzle small amounts of fresh basil pesto all over platter of the fried blossoms for a pretty presentation.