Eating flowers is not so weird ... the Italians have been rejoicing in them for centuries.
1 Tbsp golden sultanas (or raisins) 1 Tbsp pine nuts Olive oil for frying 100g (3-4 ounces) ricotta ¼ cup freshly grated grano padano or parmesan cheese Finely grated zest ½ lemon 1 tsp shredded sage leaves ½ tsp flaky sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling Tiny bit of crushed dried bird’s eye chilli, or a sprinkle of chilli flakes, optional 2 Italian amaretti biscuits, lightly crushed (2 tsp amaretti crumbs), optional 8-10 zucchini (courgette) blossoms Batter or coating (see Recipe notes below), butter if required
Read notes on harvesting zucchini flowers and preparing them before starting the recipe.
1 Put the sultanas in a small bowl and cover with very hot water. Soak for 15 minutes, drain, dry off with paper towels, then chop coarsely.
2 Toast the pine nuts in a small lightly oiled frying pan set over a medium heat, stirring pretty much constantly, until lightly golden.
4 Open the flowers and nip out the stamens and pistils. Put a spoonful of the stuffing inside each flower, then close the petals and gently twist the ends.
5 Prepare batter or panko crumb coating. Heat some oil in a wok over a medium high heat until it is starting to shimmer. Dunk blossoms in the batter, let excess drip off, then lower into hot oil. Turn when golden, cook the other side until golden, then transfer to a cake rack set over a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.
Continue with remaining blossoms. If you prefer to coat the blossoms by ‘egging and crumbing’, dunk them in beaten egg and milk, let excess drip off, then coat with crumbs. Fry in sizzling butter until golden. When all the blossoms are ready, serve immediately.
Italian amaretti biscuits are sweet and crunchy with a curious bitter edge. If you can’t find them, don’t substitute anything else as the filling is delicious enough without them.
I used ‘Fogdog’ gluten-free tempura batter simply because I had it, but you could make you own batter, tempura or otherwise (it needs to be thin), or pass the flowers through egg beaten with a little milk then ground panko crumbs (blitz them briefly).
I like to fry these in a wok as you will need less oil than you would in a flat frying pan. Whatever you fry them in, fry no more than 3 at a time or they will stick together.