July 29, 2009
The zucchini plant, as many know, is a ridiculously prolific vegetable. Throughout my years of having a garden I have realized that I don’t need to plant a whole row of them, since one or two plants will sustain our family for the entire season. Italian zucchini, or Cocozelle Zucchini Squash, is the variety I prefer as opposed to the standard green zucchini you find in the market. It has deeper edges and a slight bitterness and bite that provides a far more interesting flavor for my palate. Cut it into circular slices and it looks like a starburst on your plate, or try it as a “cracker” replacement for passed appetizers. I look forward to fried zucchini blossoms as soon as I plant the seedlings in the garden. Here’s a great recipe-I hope you enjoy as much as I do!
This recipe is by Patricia Wells from her Trattoria cook book and is for un-stuffed blossoms. I choose to stuff them with goat cheese and a mixture of herbs from the garden, but you can just simply fry them or stuff them with ricotta or whatever soft cheese you have on hand. Serve plainly as suggested or with a dollop of your favorite marinara. The beer batter makes them so light and fluffy, and it does not overwhelm the taste of the blossoms.
Serves 4-6 (depending on the size of your flowers)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
¼ cup water
¼ cup beer, at room temperature
½ cup superfine flour, such as Wondra
3 large egg whites
2 quarts peanut or safflower oil, for deep-frying
16 zucchini blossoms
1 pound large zucchini, sliced on a bias ¼-inch or 1 pound baby artichoke trimmed and quartered
Prepare the batter: In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the water and beer. Slowly whisk in the flour, whisking until smooth. The batter will be fairly thick. Set aside for 1 hour, to allow the flour to absorb the liquid.
Keep the first batch of fried ingredients warm in the oven, as you prepare the others.
Pour the oil into a wide 6-quart saucepan. The oil should be at least 2 inches deep. Place a deep-fry thermometer in the oil and heat the oil to 375.
In a bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff and fold the egg whites into the batter.
With your fingers, dip the ingredients to be fried into the batter, rolling them to coat evenly with batter. Shake off the excess batter, letting it drip back into the bowl. Carefully lower the blossoms or vegetables, a few at a time, into the hot oil. Fry until the blossoms or vegetables are golden on all sides, turning once, for a total cooking time of about 2 minutes. With a wire skimmer, lift from the oil, drain and transfer to paper towels. Immediately season with sea salt. Place the first batch in oven with the oven door slightly ajar or warming drawer. Continue frying until all of the ingredients are cooked, allowing the oil to return to 375 before adding each new batch. Serve immediately.