Such a busy, busy time of year. As we are celebrating Christmas in Sydney this year, we have just returned from a pre Christmas visit to Canberra to see family and friends.
One of the joys of each of our trips to Canberra is discovering what is in season in my father’s garden. This time we drove away with a car laden with cherries, beetroot, shallots, daikon, onions, chives, cucumbers, lettuce, rocket and new potatoes. And for good measure a pot of fresh thyme to be planted in our herb garden.
On this particular visit the zucchini plants were in flower. Those big, bold, beautiful, buttery blossoms were just begging to be plucked from their stems.
And here is our bounteous harvest. The fragile petals ready to be gently prised open. Filled with ricotta, herbs and lemon. Dredged in a crisp and airy batter. Fried and eaten.
These were incredibly delicious picked directly from the garden. The true taste of summer. Fortunately for city slickers like ourselves without regular access to a garden, zucchini blossoms are widely available at all good providore and farmer’s markets.
Battered Zucchini Blossoms With Ricotta, Herbs and Lemon.
Serves 4 as an appetiser
Use either the male blossom, with just the stem attached or the female, with a baby zucchini attached.
8 zucchini flowers
100 g ricotta
20 g parmesan, grated (optional)
3 anchovies, minced (optional)
half a bunch of chives, finely chopped
1 handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
lemon zest from 1/2 a lemon, finely grated
good grating of nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the batter
250g plain flour
450 ml sparkling mineral water, very cold
COMBINE cheese, herbs, lemon zest, anchovies (if using) and a little nutmeg in a bowl. Taste and check seasoning.
PREPARE the zucchini flowers by carefully cleaning the dirt and any insects out of them. Remove the stamen from the centre of the flower.
SPOON about 2 teaspoons of the mixture into the blossoms. Close the blossoms and gently twist the petals to secure. Set aside.
IN a large heavy based frying pan, pour enough oil to fill about a third of the way. Heat the oil over a medium flame until it is nice and hot. You can test the oil for readiness by dropping a little batter into the pan. If it sizzles around the edges, its ready to use.
WHILE the oil is heating place flour in a bowl and then whisk in the cold mineral water. Don’t get too pedantic about small lumps.
DREDGE the stuffed zucchini blossoms into the batter. Give them a little twirl as you remove them to allow any excess batter to drip off before placing them in the frying pan.
CAREFULLY lay the blossoms in the hot oil in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Fry for about 3 minutes, turning occasionally until golden.
TRANSFER to a plate lined with paper towels.
SCATTER with a little extra grated parmesan or sea salt and serve.