A few months ago we were watching Eat, Pray, Love, hungry from the first scenes of Julia Roberts enjoying her Roman experience and rediscovering the simple pleasures of food with spaghetti al pomodoro, pizza with melting mozzarella and crisp fried zucchini blossoms, when Alessandra, one of my friends, said: and remember that you have to make me the zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella. It was almost spring, a cold and unusual one, and she was already dreaming of fried zucchini flowers.
I scribbled it down right away.
I have a small black mental booklet where I record all my friends’ likes and dislikes, these are small pleasures that can make life more enjoyable and a dinner perfect and enjoyed by everyone. Create your menu around preferences and not only seasonal ingredients, this will greatly simplify the choice of dishes to cook, and I assure you that nothing, nothing pays off as the surprised look of one of your friends who discovers his favourite dessert to close the dinner. These may be tiny attentions, probably a little old-fashioned, but it’s all part of the magic.
Over the years I have assembled idiosyncrasies for cooked tomato, but raw is fine, sworn hate to melon and cucumbers, bananas thrown behind grandma’s wardrobe not to eat them, allergic reaction to cinnamon which produces a run away holding her nose (this is my sister), immoderate and uncontrollable passion for whipped cream, stolen with a spoon just from under my nose.
Tommy can not resist olives, he can be easily bribed with canederli, tortelli, a Sacher torte or a strudel, but he can not stand tofu, crostate with a too-sweet jam and white melon.
Mattia likes cheese in all its forms, especially fava beans and pecorino cheese, truffles and hot peppers, but do not offer him meringues, please. Alessandra loves everything with a lot of cheese in it, cakes with whipped cream and strawberries, tiramisu – but the savoiardi have to be well soaked in coffee otherwise it is not a tiramisu – but she would rather not have anchovies and, as we discovered, she’s got a weakness for zucchini flowers. A few days ago, as soon as the flowers of the zucchini started to peep in the garden, yellow and cheerful, I realized that the time had come.
A weekend day, a morning spent with friends among talks, laughter and cooking, mugs and teas, vegetable pies and fruit cakes. The brunch is quite a new tradition to Italy, but we have embraced it joyfully – as long as food is involved we are happy to try new experiences – since it is yet another chance to fill a room or a garden with a happy confusion, an Earl Grey tea with a vegetable cake or a mint green tea with fried zucchini flowers, strangely perfect to refresh and cleanse the palate.
Fried zucchini blossoms is a traditional antipasto in trattorias or family lunches, but it can easily be turned into the highlight of a brunch with friends.
Fry them on the spot, leave them just one or two minutes in a dish lined with kitchen paper, then enjoy them standing, all around the dish, in a new modern ritual made of murmurs of pleasure, small surprised exclamations when you bite into the melted mozzarella under the crisp crust and happy eyes of those who savour one of their favourite dishes.
Fried zucchini blossoms
- 4 heaping tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of ground black pepper
- 50 ml of beer
- 100 ml of water
- 10 zucchini blossoms
- 200 g of buffalo mozzarella
- Basil leaves
- 5 anchovy fillets
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Make the batter. Mix in a bowl flour, salt and pepper, then add slowly beer and water. Add the liquid little by little in order to avoid lumps. Let the batter rest in the fridge while stuffing the flowers.
- Wash the zucchini flowers and dry them gently, remove the pistil and fill them with a piece of buffalo mozzarella, half anchovy fillet and a basil leaf. Close them gently on themselves.
- Heat two inches of olive oil in a large skillet, dip the stuffed flowers into the batter and remove the excess. When the olive oil is hot, lay the flowers well spaced into the skillet and let them fry for two minutes per side, until crisp and golden. Fry the flowers in batches, so they won't stick together.
- Remove the flowers from the olive oil, lay them in a plate with a few sheets of paper towel to absorb the excess olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!