I visited friends a few weeks ago and, instead of bring the customary dessert, I decided to bring these fried squash flowers, called fiori di cocuzza. I think it’s safe to say that they were well received. In fact, anytime we make these, even people that are a little skeptical at first, end up loving them. The most common flowers to use are zucchini flowers and the best way to get them - other than a visit to my dad’s garden - is to grow them yourself. These are highly perishable and available only when in season, so they are not often found in grocery stores. Try farmer’s markets, farm stands, or a quick google search if you’re not able to grow them. If you do grow them and plan on making this recipe, pick them in the morning - the flowers close up in the afternoon, making them harder to wash and prepare. I promise, you won’t be disappointed with this recipe. It’s fast and impressive. These flowers make a good side to just about anything and are delicious in a sandwich with a slice of cheese!
12 squash flowers
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon parsley flakes, dried
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
Wash the flowers under slowly running cold water. Using your finger tips, split them down the center gently and wash the inside. As you wash, pick off the little green points, called sepals, where the flower meets the stem, but leave the stem attached. Lay flat on paper towel and gently pat dry.
In a bowl, combine the eggs, parmesan cheese, pepper, and parsley. Whisk and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the flour with salt and pepper to taste. Lightly flour each flower on both sides by pressing them gently into the flour (that's a funny sentence, but there isn't another way to get through that step). Set aside.
Fill a medium frying pan about a quarter of the way with vegetable oil, add about a half cup of olive oil, and set over medium-high heat. As the oil heats, line a cookie sheet with two layers of paper towel and set near the stove to be used to stage the fried flowers (set far enough away from the flame, but close enough to place the flowers on as they are removed them from the oil).
For the frying, work with one “clean” hand and one “dirty” hand. With your dirty hand dip one flower at a time in the egg mixture, ensuring it is generously coated. Let excess egg drip off and add directly to the hot oil minding your finger tips. Add enough flowers to fill the pan. Using a fork, with the clean hand flip the flowers starting with the ones that were added first. Remove when both sides are golden brown and set on the paper towel lined cookie sheet. Add more flowers and repeat until all the flowers have been fried.
Once they are slightly cooled, arrange the flowers on a platter. Sprinkle with some finely chopped parsley and serve.