I have been trying to find the best prose to post about this beautiful edible flower, but have realized that only their external originality and vibrant beauty can be translated. In only three weeks I have made over 20 dishes with them as the central ingredient, but the approach rarely differs. Generally we fry em! Although hardly on the verge of extinction, they rarely show up outside of Italy and when they are they seem to be priced exponentially. I will take you through their charm shortly, but first want to clue you in what I consider to be the “revelation”
Their base, much like an artichoke heart, is their richest and most distinct element. When fried this is somewhat lost, but in other recipes their subtle crunch and buttery goodness shines.
The most common method of cooking Zucchini Flowers is stuffing them and frying them in a beer batter (infused with Rosemary). One version uses fresh ricotta, pancetta and basil, the other Provolone and Ham. When they are freshly picked their inverted fallacy (?) welcomes the culinary invasion. Once, even a day old, it takes more effort for them to be receptive. The batter consists of two cups All Purpose Flower, 1 cup of Semolina flour, finely chopped rosemary and beer, until it reaches a coatable (not a word) consistency. Then fry folks…
I have seen “day old” Flowers used in two other ways.
The first is in a Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta. To prepare the flowers you first dice the choke/heart (mentioned above) and then cut the rest of the flower in strips. This is then fried with sliced Zucchini , Olive Oil and Salt. Pasta is then added (its water in tact) to fresh ricotta and the pre-fried mixture. The pasta water will loosen up the Ricotta. Its pretty stunning. In my kitchen I will likely add Mint.
The other recipe is a Pizzelle which is a fired fritter of sorts that can be substituted with a myriad of vegetables. Since being here we have also done them with Red Peppers and on their own with fresh herbs. Exact recipe forthcoming, but I believe the only difference from above is dissolved leavening powder instead of the beer.