Growing up watching the Nonna generation gather golden blossoms from their gardens early morning, it was difficult for me to appreciate why they considered flowers a food source, after all the more Americanized kids were ripping open bags of Lays Potato Chips. In those days, ethnic food was viewed much differently than it is today and frequently in a less than positive way; especially by the children and grandchildren of immigrants who only wanted to fit in with their school friends.
Zucchini blossoms were a part of life, whether they be stuffed with cheese, anchovies or simply fried; a ritual of summer. Like any other Italian dish, each family had their own way of preparing these delicate treasures. Of course they were all were delicious but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I felt as though I sampled the best of the best when talking about Fried Zucchini Flowers or Fiori di Zucca Fritti.
Some years back on one of our family trips to Italy we stayed in a bucolic Agriturismo outside of Udine, Friuli in a village called Ravosa di Poroletto. Set in a meadow surrounded by vineyards and forest, La Faula is run by Luca & Paul who have worked tirelessly to provide the utmost in hospitality.
That particular year as they do each summer, the couple was hosting a young German student who was preparing for a career in the hotel business. As the kitchen was always a welcoming place for guests at La Faula, we stood by each evening as Luca taught the young lady how to simply fry the freshly plucked Zucchini Blossoms.
A straightforward combination of the local sparkling water, salt, pepper, and flour was what Luca used for the batter. When asked how much sparkling water, how much flour – the response was always “quanta basta” or when it is enough.
Quanta basta, how many times have I heard that expression. A few generations back, there was no recording of recipes, dishes were passed down through the family by watching & helping. The family cook, generally the mother or grandmother, knew these things by sight, smell, touch – the ultimate sign of someone who understands food.
I have followed Luca’s instructions for nearly 10 years, never measuring the ingredients. But this is a food blog entry and my readers need a guide post to follow. Using the most detailed recording of ingredients I prepared the Fiori di Zucca Fritti, strictly measuring as I went along.
This is a dish that is solely dependent on simplicity of quality ingredients and must be served immediately. I promise you that there is nothing more satisfying than a properly fried Zucchini blossom with a chilled glass of white wine on a summer’s evening.
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- 12 fresh zucchini flowers, picked on the day you are using them
- 12 fluid ounces of cold Pellegrino or other cold sparkling water
- 1¼ cup of all purpose flour - I used OO Flour imported from Italy
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Sunflower oil, quanta basta
- Flakey sea salt
- The zucchini flowers should be inspected for any sign of dirt or insects, if you see anything suspicious simple wipe away. Be sure to carefully open the blossom and look inside as well. Do not, under any circumstances wash the flowers. Set aside.
- Heat about 1 inch of sunflower oil in a heavy skillet over a medium-high flame, I prefer to use a well seasoned cast iron skillet.
- Pour the cold sparkling water into a medium sized bowl. Using a whisk begin to add the flour about ⅓ of a cup at a time, gently whisking as you do not want to loose the bubbles. Season with the fine sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. The batter should be similar to a rather thin pancake batter.
- Set the batter and the flowers along with a paper towel lined tray along side the skillet with the hot oil. Place 6 of the flowers into the batter, completely submerging them. One at a time pick up the flowers insuring that each is well coated with the batter but allowing any excess batter to drip back into the bowl. Place the coated flowers into the hot oil, always away from you until you have done so with all 6. Allow the blossoms to fry until lightly golden on one side, then turn each using a set of tongs until the second side is golden. Remove to the paper towel lined tray to absorbs some of the oil, turning once. Immediately repeat with the next 6 blossoms.
- Transfer the fried blossoms to a serving plate while still hot, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and serve immediately with a chilled glass of prosecco.
Can’t wait to make these, my mouth is watering !
Simple but oh so special – thanks for stopping by to comment Cara.
I am happy to see that you said not to wash the flowers. I just read somewhere to put them in a bowl of water! I can’t wait to pick up some blossoms at the market this weekend.
Thank you for noticing that Janie, che vergonia… Have fun at the market and don’t forget to enjoy them with your favorite white wine.
These look wonderful, Paola. Fiori di zucca used to be one of my favorite summer treats, butI haven’t had them for years now. No one seems to carry zucchini blossoms any more, not even our local farmers market!
And I can relate to your “quanto basta” dilemma. I never measure myself, but I’ve found readers can get quite tetchy when you neglect to give them precise measurements, even when they’re really not needed.
Thank you Frank and I wish I could mail you some…
It is so difficult for me to put some of my go to recipes into specifics. Of course I want to educate my readers, providing them with the structure needed to reproduce the dishes as they should be however so much of the Italian table requires a careful touch and watchful eye. This takes time and experience, attention to smell and even the sound of the cooking process.
These look absolutely mouthwatering Paula! I have never made these, mostly because zucchini flowers are very hard to come by where I live. I’m more familiar with the beer batter variety but love that you can use sparkling water…and now I really must hunt some down! Pinning this for later!
I wish I could send you some Marisa, being in California they are plentiful. Using beer is not unlike using sparkling water, essentially they are both bubbly and beer must add an interesting yeasty quality. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard my mom say Quanta basta! It is exactly as you say Paula… time, experience and attention to detail. That’s why these simple Italian recipes work. On a personal note, I still make fried zucchini flowers… they bring me right back to my mom’s kitchen, where she would gather dozens of flowers from the backyard garden. Oh, the sibling arguments as to who would get the last one. My mom would prepare them as you have described… simply delicious. Thanks for sharing ♥
Ciao Chow Linda says
You were lucky to grow up with these as a snack, rather than potato chips! I’ll take these any day, especially stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies. I use the same sparkling water, flour and salt mixture too when I make them, but my zucchini plants are very slow this summer. I can’t wait to get my own blossoms.
Paula Barbarito Levitt says
I do feel fortunate but as a child you always want what the other kids have. Your stuffed blossoms are another favorite way in which we enjoy them. So disappointing when the garden doesn’t do as you expect. This year I decided to give my beds a little vacation from tomatoes and plant fave to enrich the soil. Be patient, the will soon come and you will be frying up a storm.
I made these last night and joyed alfresco with white wine wonderful
Oh, I am she delighted to hear that Karen, CinCin!
I love zucchini flowers so much. Yes, I was the same, I wanted to fit in with the other kids but I couldn’t resist my mother’s zucchini flowers! Oh, I love quanto basta. That’s being a true cook! Love this post!
We are kindred spirits Marcellina! Thank you for your kind words and for following La Bella Sorella…a presto Paula
Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina says
Perfetto! The perfect recipe for these Italian delicacies! I just love them!