Sometimes I really wish I had an ‘old-country’ grandmother. I know I’ve grown up with a fantastic variety of cuisine and tons of opportunities to try new things, but the idea of going to your Grandma’s and having an ethnic feast is one childhood memory I can’t say I have.
That is to say, I have nothing against my Grandmas. I have fond memories or overly-marshmellowed Rice Krispie Squares (Thanks for the mixing spoon Grandma!) and banana roll-ups -note these are made with bread, not tortillas people! There was the infamous Easter dinner of ’96 with roast ham, spaghetti and a shrimp ring, but we don’t need to go there.
My underlying point is that Grandmas are great: they let you lick the mixing bowls, give you junk food your parents would otherwise forbid and they love you to pieces-nothing wrong with that. I’m just sad it took me 24 years to try zucchini blossoms. (Excuse me, what now? you ask) If I had my own Italian Nona we wouldn’t have this problem. I do realize this is quite a minor tragedy in the big picture, but seriously, they are so good that is rather unfortunate it’s taken me this long to try them. That’s okay though, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated them nearly as much as I do now. Which is a lot.
Another bonus about my late introduction to fried zucchini blossoms is I’m old enough to fry them myself. Wait, I lied. My mom made donuts at 8, but she also set her parents’ kitchen curtains on fire. I guess you can use your own discretion for frying age restrictions.
I must stress that you don’t stuff these light vegetable fritters. They are not hulking, tacky jalepeno poppers. They are flowers. They have a delicate, light and airy batter. They’re Italian after all.
I must further stress that I was totally prepared to stuff these little babies to the point of explosion with goat cheese and herbs. I ran this by my Italian friend who scoffed at my simple-minded North American notion.
“I don’t know why people think zucchini are all of the sudden so great, my mom used to fry these for us all the time. You never stuff them either, they’re way too small and…you just don’t”
Well, I guess I’m not stuffing them. She was right however. They didn’t have enough room for messy, melty cheese and they were way too good to ruin with extras anyways. I can’t say they lated long (just like their seasonal window) but I would urge you to make them if you can get your hands on some.
Fried Zucchini Blossoms (fiori fritti dello zucchini)
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 ounce chilled Pilsner, lagerstyle beer, or club soda
- Zucchini blossoms (stamens removed; about 2 dozen)
- Sea salt + peper
- lemon juice, parmesan to garnish if desired
- In a large pot, heat about 2″ oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°.
- Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl, then whisk in beer until almost smooth (some small lumps are welcome—don’t overwhisk or you’ll deflate the batter).
- One by one, dredge the blossoms in batter, shaking off the excess; gently lay them in the oil, without crowding the pan.
- Cook, flipping once with a slotted spoon, until golden brown, 2–3 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Sprinkle with sea salt (and garnishes if using) and devour while hot.
For an even lighter, crispier crust, fold 3 stiffly beaten egg whites into batter and proceed as above.