*This recipe has been featured in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.*
Today’s What’s Cooking Wednesday has us playing with some flowers.
Those of the lovely zucchini, or courgettes to some of you:
Don’t they just look good enough to eat?
Fiori di zucchine come in two varieties, male and female, and they’re both edible. You can tell the females by the fact that they are attached to the zucchini whereas the males have stems like regular flowers. The ones pictured above, then, are males.
Plus, of course, the females have pistils and the males have stamens (you remember biology class, right?). They say you can leave these in when you prepare the flowers to be eaten, but I always remove them with a quick twist. Ouch!
There are a lot of very basic, very delicious recipes for fried zucchini flowers out there–just whip up a tempura batter with flour, egg, milk, and salt (slightly more exact measurements below), and fry ’em up.
And that’s what I did with about half of the flowers, the smaller ones.
With the rest, though, I wanted to try a little something more adventurous. So I spiced up my ricotta and spinach cannelloni filling with some prosciutto crudo. I loved the results, the way the saltiness of the prosciutto picked up the sweetness of the flowers and how the spinach brought it all back down with its earthy flavor.
All measurements are approximate, so feel free to play.
Approximately 25-30 large zucchini flowers
1 egg yolk
One small container ricotta cheese (fresh if you can find it)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped spinach
prosciutto crudo, torn into bits or diced
grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
salt to taste
(Note: I used this for all the flowers,
so this was enough for about 60 in all)
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
Oil for frying
1. Prepare the batter and set aside; it shouldn’t be too thick for this recipe, although here they definitely make this batter quite thick and you end up with almost a fritter–tasty too, but not what we’re going for here.
One note: do remember that you’re dealing with flowers, so be gentle.
2. To prepare the zucchini flowers, remove the stamens and stems and then wash the flowers carefully and put them on paper towels to dry. Note that you can also leave the stems on for presentation purposes, but I usually take them off.
3. Prepare the filling by combining all the ingredients above and gently stuff the zucchini flowers up until the point where the petals start to open. I used a makeshift pastry bag (Ziploc with the corner cut off). You can twist the petals a bit to close in the stuffing. If you aren’t going to fry them right away, you can store the stuffed flowers this way in the fridge for a few hours, although I wouldn’t wait too long because the ricotta can get watery.
4. When you’re ready to fry, heat the vegetable oil in a medium to large pan.
5. One by one, dip the stuffed flowers in the batter (you’re going to have to use your hands here) and let excess batter drip off. Then drop the flower in oil and allow all sides to brown before you lift out and put on paper towels to drain. I’d recommend only frying two flowers at a time otherwise they become difficult to keep track of increasing burning possibilities.
Although they require a bit of prep work, these make tasty, impressive-looking appetizers, but you need to serve them warm. If you won’t be serving right away, use an oven to keep them heated until you’re ready to serve.