Italian Cooking & Language Blog

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Zucchini Flowers

I grew up relishing in the fact that I ate flowers. I felt a little like a monster for eating something so pretty, but that didn’t stop me.

My mother’s garden has always been rich with zucchini flowers. She serves them fried, as she remembers Italian-American relatives doing when she was young. The recipe is simple and a little different every time, depending on the ingredients she has available.

She picks the blooms in the morning and stores them in the fridge in an open plastic bag. With one paper towel thrown in to control the moisture, they usually last a few days. When she has enough, she’ll clean them, stuff them with a small piece of mozzarella and then coat them in a batter of milk, flour, egg, grated cheese (pecorino romano), fresh basil, salt and pepper. After lightly frying them in extra virgin olive oil, the mozzarella is melted and the batter is crispy. A perfect appetizer.

When you make them, be careful frying in olive oil since the oil burns quickly. To produce even crispier flowers, the cookbook from the Florentine restaurant Garga suggests adding beer to the batter.

To make other dishes with the zucchini flowers, I like to slice the petals and sauté them lightly in olive oil with salt and pepper. It makes a lovely light pasta sauce or even dipping sauce for fresh, sliced bread. I had them recently in Florence as a pesto sauce, but I haven’t tried making this yet.

Here are some good tips from the LA Times on how to choose, store and prepare zucchini flowers.

What is your favorite recipe with zucchini flowers?

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