This time of year is all about abundance; and the color of zucchini flowers speaks of summer’s riches. It doesn’t hurt that they taste delicious too. If you are feeling particularly inspired, you can also try to make your own fresh ricotta, it’s surprisingly easy, and much better than any you can buy.
For the batter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 egg whites, organic
For the zucchini flowers
1 cup soft ricotta
20 zucchini flowers
4 tablespoons basil leaves
3 cups sunflower oil
Make the batter
1. Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the center, pour in the olive oil, and stir to combine. Loosen this paste by slowly adding enough warm water, slightly less than 1 cup, to make a batter the consistency of heavy cream. Add 1 teaspoon salt, cover and leave for at least 1 hour.
Prepare the zucchini flowers
1. Remove the stamens and the green bits at the base.
2. Season the ricotta. Push 1 teaspoon of ricotta and a basil leaf inside each flower. Press together.
3. Heat the oil to 350°F (175°C) in a deep skillet. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the batter.
4. Dip the flowers one at a time into the batter. Tap gently to knock off excess, and carefully place as many as you can without touching into the hot oil. Fry until light brown, then turn to crisp the other side.
5. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with lemon.
Fresh riccota cheese
It’s surprisingly easy to make your own ricotta cheese. Use it for pasta fillings, in desserts, or as a dessert in its own right, simply sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and served with fresh berries. Keep the ricotta in the refrigerator and use it within 3 to 5 days.
6 cups whole milk
6 ounces live yogurt
6 ounces heavy cream
Pinch of salt
( Makes 1 1/2 cups)
1. In a nonreactive saucepan, whisk together all the ingredients. Over medium heat, slowly bring the mixture to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat, stir once, and leave it to settle for 2 minutes.
2. Line a colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth. Slowly pour the mixture into it and leave it to drain for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese in the cheesecloth is thick. Transfer the fresh ricotta into a covered, non-reactive container and refrigerate until needed.