Fried Zucchini Blossoms
Recipe and photos by Emma Givens as part of her Calabrese Cooking with Nonna series
If you grew up with Italian Nonni, chances are high that by mid-summer, your kitchen was overflowing with giant zucchini.
That might sound like an exaggeration if you’ve never grown any yourself, but trust me, it’s the truth.
Year after year, my Nonni would nurture their kitchen garden, called l’orto in Italian, and care for vegetables like tomatoes, peas, and herbs like basil.
Whenever my Nonna Rita cooked with their fresh, homegrown veggies, my Nonno Oreste would tease her that he was the better gardener. Nonna knew it was true–which is why she’d deny it, and he’d smile.
After Nonno passed away and Nonna Rita moved in with my parents, her garden became a major focal point in her life. Her fair-weather days were spent planting seeds, handling invading grubs, and sitting in the shade with my mom.
Her harvest was bountiful, and nothing grew more than the fresh, delicious zucchini that reached the size of an adult’s arm. There were so many that we’d beg coworkers, friends, and neighbors to take a few so that someone could enjoy them!
Not a single piece of those plants would go to waste, including the beautiful orange and green flowers that sprout in June and July. That’s when we’d plucked them from their plants, clean out the pollen-covered stamen in the centers, and deep fry them in oil.
It’s funny — these zucchini flowers are deep-fried, but since they’re at the peak of freshness, they still have a bright, flavorful crunch. They’re the perfect snack along with a cool glass of San Benedetto water from your Nonni’s fridge on a hot summers’ day!
Fried Zucchini Blossoms
Makes up to 10 fried zucchini flowers
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
8-10 zucchini flowers, washed and with the center (stamen) removed
1 cup water
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
2 pinches salt
1 cup sunflower oil, for frying
- Combine flour, water, and salt and stir together to form a smooth batter.
- Add the oil to a small frying pan and turn up to medium heat. Use a spoon to drop in a little of the batter. The oil is ready when it starts frying.
- Dip one zucchini flower at a time into the batter until it’s fully coated, then immediately drop it in the oil to fry.
- When the flour coating darkens, remove each zucchini flower from the oil and place them on a plate covered in a paper towel to drain the excess.
- Pro tip: If you have leftover batter after frying all of the zucchini flowers, you can drop a spoonful at a time in the oil to form crispy, fried dough balls as a bonus zero-waste snack.
- Allow the fried zucchini flowers to cool, then serve while still warm.
Emma Givens is a copywriter, content marketer, and writing coach for entrepreneurs, and the proud granddaughter of 2 Calabrese immigrants who came to Toronto in the 1950s. In her series Calabrese Cooking with Nonna, she reconnects with her grandmother who passed in 2020 by recreating her homemade culinary classics — and reveals a few family stories along the way.