For me, the reason to grow zucchini is the flowers. Zucchini flowers are the treat of summer—the male flowers are dipped in a light batter, pan fried and eaten almost like candy by Italian country people from the Piedmont to Sicily. Everyone loves them and so will you. This particular batter helps keep the flowers crisp, even an hour after frying, but do serve them as quickly as possible because they are so good hot.
Cook to Cook: Find zucchini flowers in farmers' markets through summer. Female flowers are attached to zucchini, the males are not. Use flowers soon after picking. If they are wilted, don't buy them.
20 or so male zucchini flowers, stamens removed
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Olive oil or canola oil
1. Make sure flowers are dry. Beat together flour, cream, water, the 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper until smooth. Refrigerate the batter 20 minutes to several hours.
2. Pour about 1 inch of oil into a 12-inch skillet. Heat over medium high. Dip the flowers into the batter, draining off excess. Fry 5 pieces at a time, turning once or twice until they're crisp and golden brown on all sides—about 4 minutes.
3. Drain the flowers on paper towels and sprinkle them with salt. Serve hot. They can be held about an hour if spread out and not covered.
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