When our friend Tom Finerty over at Your Garden Show blog shared a recipe and photos from his neighbors in Italy, I knew it would only be days before I attempted the dish they were preparing. The recipe is for Fiori di Zucca, which is delicious-sounding Italian for the rather more prosaic "fried squash blossoms."
For those of us who face the perennial question of what to do with all that zucchini, this recipe offers an elegant, and as I suspected, truly delectable solution: Nip 'em in the bud. Then fry the buds. But first, make a light batter, and fill the flower buds with fresh mozzarella and anchovies. It's about that simple, and simply scrumptious. Here are the directions, and here's how mine turned out. I salted the batter too much and added an egg. When I looked at Tom's blog again, I realized that his neighbor's recipe doesn't include an egg, and also uses carbonated water (acqua gassata, which is almost as common in Italy as plain old water), which makes the batter much lighter.
If I were making this dish for guests, I'd make some with and some without anchovies, though I thought the slight fishy flavor was spectaculor. I also put a pretty Genovese basil leaf in two of mine and loved the flavor of the gooey mozzarella, the basil and the delicate squash blossom. When I make this again—and I most assuredly will—I'm going to drizzle some insanely good, very thick balsamic vinegar over the cooked blossoms.
Dressing the plate in my photo, you'll see all of my day's harvest of my 'Sungold' tomatoes—one of the best cherry varieties I've ever tasted—which are happily growing in a large container just outside my front door.
I am not personally growing any squash this year, after two years in a row of disappointment after the (insert scatalogical adjectives here) borers got my squash. However, our company garden, made in an ugly stretch of lawn in front of our building, is growing sufficient squash that I actually feel somewhat virtuous in cadging a few blossoms here and there. After all, here in Kansas, the joke goes, one doesn't leave one's car windows down in July or August, nor the doors to your home unlocked, for fear someone might drive by and put zucchini inside. I'm only sparing us from burial by zucchini later in the season.
K.C. Compton is senior editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, and formerly was Editor in Chief of our sister publications, The Herb Companion and GRIT. A huge fan of the food chain, from molecules to meals on the table, K.C. is passionate about the idea that most of what we need to be healthy can be found in the garden. Find her on Google+.