"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fried Zucchini Flowers at Cefalicchio

Fried zucchini flowers, or fiore de zucchini, are a typical Puglian antipasto. About twice a week Enuncio, the gardener, would bring in large buckets full of zucchini from the Cefalicchio gardens and large bags of delicate, vibrant zucchini flowers. Normally, I would have discarded the flowers but in Puglia, they are transformed into a delightful appetizer. I have heard of them being stuffed with various sauces or meats but at Cefalicchio we stuffed them with strips of mozzarella and ricotta. While zucchini flowers may not be very easy to find at your local supermarket, I recommend speaking with the squash vendors at your local farmer's market or growing your own zucchinis. This dish takes time and patience as you need to carefully and gently clean the fragile flowers because they might have small insects hiding in their soft folds.

Fried Zucchini Flowers

14 Zucchini flowers
Ricotta and Mozzarella, sliced into strips
2 eggs
1 cup seltzer water
1 cup flour
Kosher salt for garnish
Oil for frying

1. Carefully wash and clean the zucchini blossoms. Leave the stems intact (or about two inches long) to hold the zucchini flowers together and remove the stamen.
2. Stuff each zucchini flower with strips of ricotta and/or mozzarella and set on a pan.
3. Heat about three inches of oil in a large heavy pan or wok until it is about 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, seltzer water and flour until you have a creamy consistency for the batter.
5. Using tongs, gently dip the stuffed zucchini flowers in the batter to coat and then into the hot oil and fry until crispy and golden, about 2 minutes.
6. Remove the fried zucchini flowers and set on a paper towel to remove any excess oil. Serve warm with a dash of kosher salt. Enjoy!

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