|Fried Zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta and herbs|
When I was 19, my father took me with him on a business trip to Florence, Italy. For four glorious May days he attended meetings while I spent my time wandering and watching, walking and exploring and getting my first taste of la vita bella. The sun-ripened tomatoes, the creamy gelato, the sing-song beauty of the language and the general atmosphere of good times to be had made me fall hard for Firenze, as so many millions had before me. On the banks of the river Arno I made a promise to myself then that I would return, and of course I did...
On our last evening I joined my father and his colleagues- we were being taken for a special dinner in an undisclosed location. Just as the sun started its descent in the clear sky, the ten of us boarded a tiny little bus- I had no idea where we might be headed. We drove over a bridge headed for one of the green hills that surrounded the city and started our ascent. As we climbed higher I could see the ancient city spreading out below us, the red tiled rooftops and towering cupolas glowing in the late evening sun, rippling and shimmery like a mirage.
Being a suburban girl I had little concept that zucchinis grew with flowers, and that this flower was not only edible, but delicious with a delicate zucchini flavor. Leave it to the Italians… The petals were a rich orange yellow striped with bright green, and some blessed person had stuffed them with stringy warm cheese and fried them to crisp perfection. What followed was one of the top five meals of my life, but all I can really remember is the way those blossoms tasted in the Tuscan evening air.
On Wednesday I scored a box of beautiful healthy male blossoms with stems (the females grow at the end of the vegetable) and I knew what must be done. These are great fried crisp on their own, but I stuffed them with ricotta and herbs and coated them in a batter spiced with garam masala.
Fried Zucchini Blossoms
1 c flour
1 t garam masala
1c club soda, cold
1 c ricotta cheese
1 t lemon zest
1. Remove stamens from inside the flower, being careful not to rip the petals. You can use a pair of tweezers or even long scissors.
2. Mix ricotta with zest, herbs and spices- these herbs came from right outside my window!!