I got my love of food and gardens from my Italian grandmother. Every year the four of us kids would go visit Nonna for the summer. I loved these long visits, and quickly became Nonna’s little gardener. She had an amazing garden, the best I’ve ever seen. At one point she turned her entire backyard into an oasis, replete with cool apple trees, plump tomatoes, sweet strawberries, every kind of pepper and herb you can imagine, yellow squash, beans and being Italian–of course a ton of zucchini! She had so much food back there. I spent every day pulling weeds and picking fruits and veggies. And I was always greeted with a huge glass of ice cold lemonade when I was finished. My favorite was when she asked me to pick the zucchini flowers, because I knew what was coming next…Fried Zucchini Blossoms!!!
I love this dish. There is just something so fresh and delicious about eating these flowers right after they are picked, lightly battered, and pan-fried. Every time I bite into a piping hot zucchini flower, it brings me back to those long summers in Virginia Beach with my grandma.
She is the one who taught me to only pick the male ones (the ones that don’t have a zucchini growing between the stem and the flower) because then the females (ones with the zucchini) will have a chance to fully grow. She also taught me to leave just a few male ones on the plant, so the bees do their busy pollination work.
Nonna is pretty funny. She doesn’t have a single recipe written down, and nothing is an exact measurement. I love this way of cooking and preparing food. So a few years ago when I started gardening and was so excited to make zucchini blossoms, I called her up and asked her how. Without exact measurements, it took a little trial and error to get the consistency of the batter right. I have been making these for a few years now and they are seriously the best ever!
That is why I was soooo happy when I saw this month’s Recipe ReDux theme:
Floral Flavors – Nothing brightens up a dish like a real flower! Whether you live in the northern or the southern hemisphere, edible flowers can add flavor and aroma to salads, breads, spreads, desserts or dips. Make your recipe bloom with rose water, flowering herbs, floral teas, dried lavender blossoms or even fresh flowers like nasturtiums, violets, borage, squash, sunflowers or pretty much any blossom in a vegetable garden.
The best time to pick the flowers is at dawn, when the flowers are fully open. Because during they day they will close up. They also need to be used the same day–they don’t keep very well after that.
Once you pick them, carefully rinse them with cool water and remove the yellow pollen filled thing from the middle of the flower, trying not to tear the petals (I think its called a stamen?). Anyway, just take it out. Then pat them dry with paper towels, lay a paper towel on a plate, put the flowers on top, and then lay another paper towel on top. Store them in the fridge until you are ready to make them.
If you don’t have a garden, you might be able to find them at the farmer’s market. And if you don’t see them there, you could always ask one of the farmers who have zucchini if they could bring you some next time. They would probably be happy to, and it never hurts to ask!
I’m not able to grow a garden this year…we are moving soon, but I got these ones at the Monterey farmers market held on Tuesdays downtown. So if you are in the area, that is where you can find them.
Nonna always uses white flour. Since I try to avoid processed foods and follow these real food rules, whenever a recipe calls for all-purpose white flour, I substitute it with white whole-wheat flour. King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour is my favorite brand to use. This flour is still completely whole-wheat, but uses the white wheat berries instead of red. Traditional whole-wheat flour uses red wheat berries. I like white whole-wheat because you still get all the nutritional benefits and it makes for an easier transition from all-purpose white to whole wheat.
I’ve also made this recipe using oat flour, and explain how to make your own in the post, How to Make Quick Oats out of Rolled Oats. It is good this way too, but my favorite is with white whole-wheat.
- 12 zucchini blossoms
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup white whole-wheat flour
- olive oil
- salt to taste
- Lightly rinse off the flowers and remove the yellow pollen thing inside. Pat dry.
- Mix water and flour together in a bowl.
- Heat a pan on medium-high heat with enough oil to cover the bottom and go up about ¼ inch.
- Working one at a time, dip blossom into flour/water mixture. Let the excess drip off, and pan-fry for about 20 seconds each side. Place on a plate with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
Check out all the other floral flavor recipes that the Recipe ReDuxers came up with below!