Delicate zucchini (courgette) flowers don’t seem like your typical street food, however I ate them in Naples at a market where they were stuffed and freshly fried in batter, which seemed to make them remarkably robust. Finding male flowers without baby zucchini attached isn’t always easy – try a farmers’ market or a friendly neighbour with a big backyard who grows their own.
Ricotta makes the perfect stuffing for zucchini flowers, and I love combining it with fresh mint for a delicate and fresh flavour.
- 24 zucchini (courgette) flowers, stalks attached
- 150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) tepid water
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg
- grapeseed, peanut or sunflower oil, for shallow-frying
- 100 g (3½ oz) ricotta
- 1 small egg
- 20 g (¾ oz) grated parmesan cheese
- 1 scant tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the batter, place the flour, water and salt in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside for 1 hour.
To make the filling, whisk the ricotta and egg using a fork until smooth, then fold in the parmesan and mint leaves.
Clean the flowers by gently washing them in water, then shake dry and make a cut in the side of each flower near the base. Snip off the inner stamens and place 1 tsp of filling (or less, depending on the size of the flower; do not over-fill) in each flower. Twist the ends and make sure the incision is well covered.
Add the egg to the batter and whisk until smooth. The batter will be quite thick and creamy.
Heat 1 cm (½ in) oil in a wide non-stick frying pan over medium–high heat.
Drop the flowers into the prepared batter, shaking lightly to remove any excess, then shallow-fry in batches, turning over after a few minutes – the flowers should be pale golden when cooked. Drain on kitchen towel and serve warm as an appetiser.
This recipe is from Italian Street Food. (Smith Street Books). Photography by Paola Bacchia.