Zucchini flowers are an absolute delicacy of summer in Italy. In addition to being delicious, it makes quite an impression on diners to know that they are eating flowers! The blossoms are 100% edible and display a beautiful yellow and orange hue.
The first step is picking the right product. The flowers should be bright, firm and free of brown spots. Limp ones or those with brown spots should be rejected and discarded.
In many restaurants in Italy, you can find zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta, or various other things, but to get the pure flavor we recommend consuming them uninterrupted by fillings. The flowers are delicate, and in our opinion, never hold up well to a heavy filling. Why guild the lily? This preparation will help you understand why simplicity in the kitchen will help you eat like an Italian.
Here’s how to clean them: if there is still a stem attached, trim it to about and inch. As you trim them, put them into a large pot filled with cold water and let them soak for about 10 minutes. Drain out the water, and shake the flowers lightly one by one to dislodge the water inside. Set them aside to dry out. 15 minutes should be enough, just as long as they’re not full of water!
Here’s how you make the pastella or batter. There are many regional variations, but this one is basic and reliable.
-Beat 2 eggs in a bowl.
-Combine 1 ¼ tbsp. dissolved yeast to 1 cup of water and add large pinch of salt.
-Let the yeast and water sit for a few minutes.
-Mix the eggs with the yeast and water.
-Slowly add flour while beating the mixture steadily with a fork. The consistency should be similar to that of pancake batter.
Whichever version you choose, once the batter is done, add the flowers (put enough in the bowl with the batter so there’s room to stir) to the batter and mix them gently around to coat. You can do them one at a time, but it’s much more efficient this way.
Slip them one by one into oil heated to med-high (the oil should come up a little more than halfway to the flowers). Once they are browned on one side, turn them.
You may have to do this in more than one batch. The pastella is enough for about 30 flowers. Once they’re cooked, let them drain on a paper towel. Try one right away, preferably with a cold glass of white wine.