These appetizers are favorites all over Italy. Come springtime, menus are chockfull of regional variations. This is a classic filling, but other herbs and seasonings would work well, too. Use your imagination — and what’s on hand.—Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
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.
Recipe © 2004 Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers. All rights reserved.