Battered & Fried Zucchini Blossoms and Herbs
My daughter Jesse and I went fishing at a small inland lake in our county yesterday. We caught a handful of panfish and had a lovely time on a quiet and picturesque lake. When we returned home I fried the fish, with a simple batter in an oiled skillet. They were, of course, delicious, as fresh caught panfish are.
Today I decided to stay with the batter-and-fry method, but chose zucchini flowers and a handful of basil and sage leaves as the "batterees". Fried zucchini blossoms always make me think of summer in Italy, with Italian farmers market vendors displaying mounds of big red tomatoes, brilliant yellow zucchini flowers and chunky bolete mushrooms.
Sometimes I'll stuff the flowers with the traditional cheese or sausage mixture before frying. Today I just battered and fried them, with a pinch of sea salt as the only seasoning. A little light horseradish or lemon thyme aoli on the side for dipping is nice too.
The batter is simple and light:
- 1½ cups flour
- 1 or 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 or 3 egg whites
- 1 can of beer, preferably a pilsner or lager style
1. Pick 12 to 18 male zucchini flowers, the ones on the long, skinny stems. make sure there aren't any ants or other critters inside. Pick a handful of sizable sage and basil leaves too.
2. Heat an inch or two of canola oil in a skillet until it's good and hot and spits at you if you sprinkle a drop of water. Use one of those screened covers when frying too, if you have one.
3. Mix the flour and salt. Add the eggs whites. Pour in the beer as you beat the flour/egg mixture with a fork, until it's like pancake batter.
4. Dip the zucchini flowers and herb leaves into the batter to coat. Hold them above the bowl for several seconds to allow them to drain some of the batter off before adding directly to the hot oil, otherwise they get too bready. Fry until golden brown on the one side, then turn them over with tongs to fry the other sides. You'll have to work in little batches, depending upon how big your skillet is.
5. Let the finished blossoms and leaves drain on a plate with paper towels, and give a sprinkle of sea salt while they're still hot. That's it.
Like I said, fried zucchini flowers conjure images of Italy, but we're in Wisconsin so I used a can of Leinenkugels Original Lager as the beer for my batter. Italy...Wisconsin...Italy...Wisconsin...heh, they're both great places to be in summer.