Zucchini blossoms: a most delectable flower
Mario Batali shares this recipe for fried zucchini blossoms.
Squash have edible blossoms, but few rival the color and deliciousness of the zucchini's.
Until a few years ago, it was difficult to find these flowers in the States because they're too fragile for most supermarkets to handle. You can now find them at most farmers markets throughout the summer (zucchini season). The flowers are extremely delicate and last only a day or so after they are picked. That is to say, buy them the second you see them!
Perhaps inspired by their luck with the squash themselves, Italians have long cooked with the fiori as well. The most common Italian preparation, though, is to stuff the flower with soft cheese — usually ricotta or fresh mozzarella — and then batter and fry; a delicate platter of crispy-then-soft zucchini blossoms is a thrill to eat.
My heroine and culinary goddess, Nancy Silverton, devised a pizza lined with squash blossoms, baked, and topped with buratta (think mozzarella filled with cream) that quickly became Los Angeles restaurant Osteria Mozza's most talked about pie. It's definitely the most beautiful.
In this recipe, I don't stuff the blossom (be sure to remove the stamens) with the typical soft cheese. Instead, I use a combination of grated Parmigiano and herbs. But not so much that it overpowers the subtlety of the flower.
Most often stuffed, battered and fried or baked, squash blossoms are similarly delicious when eaten raw. Add to a summer salad for a subtle herb flavor and, of course, a hint of orange.
James Beard Award-winner Mario Batali, a Seattle native, is a chef, restaurateur, author and TV personality. His latest book is "Molto Batali."