Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

One of our guests’ favorite memories is watching nonna Ada Bernardini and her daughter Antonella stuff and fry bowls of zucchini blossoms at Agriturismo Belagaggio. Crowded in the busy kitchen, they savor them piping hot with icy flutes of Prosecco. 
Nonna Ada uses fresh ricotta cheese and spinach in this recipe.  She fills and gently twists the blossoms shut before sliding them into bubbling hot oil. The oil bathes the blossoms and the cheese immediately begins to soften. When you make this recipe, watch the petals of the flowers crisp.
Course: Side Dish
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 16-18 zucchini flowers, washed, dried, and stamens removed
  • 32 ounces sunflower or peanut oil

For the batter:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup beer, chilled
  • ¾ cup sparkling water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the ricotta filling:

  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese, strained if necessary
  • ¾ cup well-drained cooked, chopped spinach, excess water squeezed out
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • salt

Instructions

  • To make the Batter, combine the flour, egg, beer, sparkling water, salt, and pepper in a bowl until smooth. It should have the consistency of thin pancake batter. If needed, add a little more beer or water to achieve the proper consistency.
    To make the Ricotta Filling, combine the ricotta, spinach, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Stir until smooth. Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip. (A small sealable plastic bag with a bottom corner cut off can be used or you can fill the flowers using a small spoon.)
    Pipe approximately 1-2 tablespoons of the filling into each flower, depending on the size of the blossom. Leave a bit of space at the top to twist the flower closed. Twist the petals together at the top to help contain the cheese mixture.
    Select a frying pan deep enough to accommodate several flowers at once. A wok is a good choice. Heat enough oil to cover the flowers by three quarters.
    Dredge each zucchini flower in the batter, shaking off the excess, and carefully place in the hot oil. Fry the flowers for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the batter begins to brown. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to gently turn them over.
    Carefully remove the flowers from the oil to a large platter lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.