Fried Squash Blossoms

These are the flowers that grow off  the zucchini. Ever since I can remember this was a favorite Summer dish growing up. I clearly remember going to the vegetable store and seeing all  the flowers displayed in brown boxes or bags ready for the picking. If we weren’t going into town, my mother just as easily sent me over to my grandmother’s to pick them fresh from the farm.

Riding my bike back with a basket full of flowers and a heart full of pride, I knew my hard work would soon be paid off  when I sank my teeth into a piping hot fried flower. Unlike other regions of Italy where these blossoms are often stuffed with a cheese or meat, in Tuscany we simply dipped them in batter, lightly fired them and dusted them with salt. Stuffed or unstuffed, these are a perfect for a light lunch or dinner appetizer and I can promise you won’t be able to eat just one.

INGREDIENTI

Prep Time: 20 mins/ Cook Time: 5 mins/ Serves: 4-6

16 zucchini flowers
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 handful Parsley, chopped fine
1 (12 ounce) bottle lager Beer
Vegetable Oil, for frying
1.

Use your fingers to carefully dig a hole on the side of the zucchini flower, opening it enough to dig out with you pointer, the pollen stem that is inside.

2.

Gently rinse the flowers under a sprinkle of cold water, paying attention not to damage the thin petals, then lay on a rag and pat dry.

3.

Fill a piping bag with ricotta cheese and pipe 2-3 tablespoons of ricotta into each flower. Twist the petals to close tightly so the cheese wont escape during frying.

4.

In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, parsley, a couple of generous pinches of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Slowly start pouring the beer into the mix, using a whisk or a fork to make the batter; work it enough to eliminate any lump.

5.

Add 2 inches of vegetable oil to the bottom of a heavy skillet- making sure the oil is not more than halfway up the sides. Heat the vegetable oil until hot.

6.

Dip the flowers through the batter then slid into the hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes, flipping halfway through frying, until the blossom is golden and crisp.

7.

When ready place them in a large dish, on a couple of layers or paper towel to let the excess oil be absorbed. Salt to taste while the oil is still hot.