There are times, however, when those blossoms that are sold in bunches all glowing in their glorious and shining beauty at the market arrive home in a severe state of disrepair, all droopy, curled up and lifeless. Common sense would urge you to go the vegetable-viagra route — you know, place them in icy water to revive them as one would flaccid salad leaves and other forlorn dehyraded vegetables. But no, common sense does an Alice in Wonderland when it comes to sad looking courgette blossoms. The trick, you see, is to place them in a tub full of very warm (not hot) water for about half an hour (or even a little more). Somehow the warmth emanated by the motherly water works wonders and the blossoms come alive again.
See for yourselves.
This year, I placed some blossoms that were in perfectly good shape into a tub of said warm-to-hot water by mistake (my mind must have been wandering off as it is often wont to do) and to my surprise I discovered that their texture actually improved, they become less fragile so to speak, and thus easier to handle! So I decided that I am always going place courgette flowers in the water from now on.
STUFFING COURGETTE BLOSSOMS
The classic ingredients in Rome are mozzarella and bits of anchovy fillet. A little bit of basil leaf can be added too.
The mozzarella has to fit the size of the flowers, that much is obvious. These were quite large fiori di zucca. Place a little bit of anchovy on the mozzarella (a smaller amount for smaller flowers) …
Gently open the leaves of the blossom or blow into the blossom to help open it. If you rip the side of one the leaves, tant pis. Never mind. Take heart, the batter will fix that in the course of frying. Insert the mozzarella chunk with the anchovy bit into the flower …
Finally, pinch and twirl the tip so that it closes. Work the blossoms in batches and set aside on a dry surface, making sure they flowers are placed with a little bit of space between them. Another precious tip: do not stuff the courgette blossoms in advance! oh what a mushy, soggy end is in sight if you do that. They have to be stuffed and cooked almost at once — which is why it’s best to do this in two.
FRYING THE FIORI DI ZUCCA
The batter you made must be cold when you dip the courgette blossoms into it at the time of frying. If it isn’t, put it into the freezer for a bit or in the fridge.
Now … depending on how many blossoms you are going to fry, you are going to have to choose an appropriate frying pan. Do be generous with your oil — it must lie at least 3cm or about 1 and a half inches deep. I use either olive oil, or groundnut (peanut) oil or sunflower oil (the latter not usually being recommended for frying but what can I say, it works for me). The following are a selection of frying pans I’ve used for zucchini blossoms:
The first flowers take what will seem aeons to you to cook. That’s the way it is with frying. The first are very very slow. The last, on the other hand, are almost too fast. Pace yourself and work is small batches.
Can you see the melted mozzarella inside? Now is the time to sprinkle salt and serve. These are photos of one year ago. And the following are photos taken of the blossoms using the batter I described in the post yesterday.
There is no photo of the final serving platter because they always get eaten before I have time to clean my hands, fetch the camera and click!
A special thanks to my darling long-suffering daughter who is always on hand to help me with the fiddly part of this recipe, fiori di zucca being one of her favourite dishes. She claims I have taken far too much advantage of her untiring input and flatly told me she’d had enough of fiori di zucca for this year – but I don’t believe her!