Back in my hometown in Northern Italy, my dad keeps a small but fruitful vegetable garden. Among the marvels that come out of it, there is plenty of zucchini squash and – what’s best – zucchini squash blossoms!
The Italian culinary tradition features many recipes with zucchini squash flowers. One of my favourites is a typically Roman recipe, which entails frying the flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies. With no fear of exaggeration, the result is a crunchy mouthful of heaven.
I recently came across a version of this recipe in “Tasting Rome”, by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill (a good book if you are into Roman cuisine). This is only slightly adapted on their version, and I found that it worked out very well.
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the squash blossoms:
- 12 squash blossoms (aim for big ones)
- 12 flat fillet anchovies
- 4 oz (abt. 120 grams) mozzarella, cut into 12 equal pieces
For the batter:
- 2 cups (250 grams) all purpose flour
- 2 2/3 cups (about 400 ml) of light beer or sparkling water
- a pinch of salt
- your preferred kind of neutral oil for frying
- Prepare the flowers: delicately wash and pat dry, remove the stamen and trim the stem to about 1 inch (2cm). Place one piece of mozzarella and 1 anchovy inside each flower, careful not to tear them apart. Sprinkle with pepper before battering.
- In a medium pan heat 2 inches (4 cm) of oil up to 350°F (180° C).
- Meanwhile, prepare the batter by mixing flour, salt and sparkling water. If you like, you can substitute part or all of the water with beer (I often do because I like the slightly acidic hint of beer in the fried batter). In that case, I suggest going for a light kind of beer like pilsner, as you don’t want the beer’s flavour to be overwhelming.
- Katie Parla and Kristina Gill suggest keeping the batter very cold to obtain a lighter crust when frying, which I found a very helpful advise. So fill a large bowl with ice water and rest the bowl with the batter in it to keep it as cold as possible.
- When the oil reaches temperature, batter the flowers working one at the time. Hold the flower tips in your hand and dip in the batter, to cover the flowers completely and seal them. Lower in the oil and fry until crispy and lightly browned (3 minutes).
- Drain and let rest on a paper towel, then sprinkle with pepper and enjoy. Be careful adding salt, because the anchovies will be already salty.