I love the sight of the first zucchini blossoms blooming. It means that summer is in full swing, local vegetables are on their way and I can make one of my favorite summer snacks.
On a trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast with my parents back in 2004, I was so excited to see squash blossoms or 'fiori di zucca' on so many menus. I had it sauteed in pasta and stuffed with cheese and deep fried. The latter is how you will find it on most menus in the US (hopefully with an anchovy tucked inside!).
I remember another time, visiting my younger sister in Maine. We spent the day hiking in Acadia National Park and then stopped for a nice dinner outside of Bar Harbor, changing out of our sweaty clothes in the back of her car. Most people would probably look forward to something hearty after a long, hot strenuous day of hiking but we immediately began to salivate at the sight of stuffed squash blossoms on the menu.
If you search the web, you will find endless recipes for stuffed blossoms but I prefer these pancakes, a recipe from my Aunt Marian, as they highlight the nutty flavor of the blossoms rather than masking it with a blob of cheese (though that's good too). These were enjoyed as a side dish to our Mixed Hamburgers on Friday night of our cooking weekend.
20 squash blossoms cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup water
1 can chopped anchovies (optional - omit salt if using)
When picking squash blossoms, make sure to do so early in the morning and try to only pick the males. For those of you who slept through biology, the female flowers will yield the fruit, or in this case, the squash. The males (useless once they do their pollinating - ha!) will be attached to a long, skinny stem as opposed to the females who will be attached to a bulb or the beginning of a squash.
If you don't have access to a garden, I have seen squash blossoms at larger farmer's markets and at Whole Foods, usually in July.
To prepare, cut of the stems, slice open and remove anything inside.
In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, (salt) and pepper. Add egg and water and beat with a fork until smooth. Add flowers, anchovies, and grated cheese. Mix well.
Fry in oil, using a serving spoon to place batter in frying pan.
When edges brown and bubbles break on top (like pancakes), turn, and brown on other side.
Serve immediately and enjoy !