Eating these might be one of my earliest memories. I’d like to say it was also one of my happiest memories (which putting them into my mouth possibly was) but I also associate it with my Nonna passing out on the kitchen floor.
Our annual road trip to Puglia consisted of three things: family, food and the beach. I was completely enchanted by my Italian grandparents in their small home with extremely high ceilings. They’d walk around everywhere barefoot; their garage floor was a sea of red with tomatoes, which they would use to make their homemade passatta. Me, aged 6, their biggest fan would lean over the wall watching intently whilst they bottled-up their deep-red sauce in their little courtyard. Brushing past the spaghetti like fly screen to get into their kitchen I’d see their giant walk in fireplace where they’d bake bread, the space doubling up as somewhere they’d sit huddled together in the winter when it got too cold. It was like a fairy-tale place to me.
On our arrival each July Nonna Maria would greet us from our garden – barefoot of course – where she’d been lovingly tending to our vegetables ready for our stay. She knew zucchini flowers were my favourite things to gobble up and used to climb over the stone wall from her back garden into ours to sneak her delicious delicacies straight to our kitchen table. On the occasion I remember most vividly she fainted with the plate of zucchini flowers smashing to the floor. I think it was due to her coming in from bright sunshine to the darkness of a closed blind kitchen. We called for my dad and propped her legs up until she came round, I couldn’t help but feel responsible because she was coming over to feed me my flowers.
Eating these this summer transported me back to being a little girl. It’s almost magical how eating certain things can take you back to a particular place or moment in time. Although, once you’ve swallowed what you were eating you quickly snap back to reality and realise that you now have to do the washing up.
15 – 20 Courgette flowers
125ml Sparkling water
75g Strong flour
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil or Sunflower
1. Pick the flowers. It’s easier to remove the stamen/pistils when the flowers are open so pick them in the morning. Cut the stamen/pistils out with scissors and rinse flowers to remove bugs and pollen.
2. Make the batter by using a balloon whisk to combine the egg, flour, salt and pepper together. Slowly add the sparkling water whilst whisking to form a smooth batter.
3. Heat some oil in a pan. Once hot, dip the flowers lightly into the batter and drop into the oil. Leave until very slightly browned and puffed up. Take out and place on some kitchen towel to drain off excess oil.
4. Enjoy as a starter or a lovely summer snack!
*You can make the batter before hand and chill in the fridge.
* If you pick the flowers in the morning you can store them in the fridge until you use them that evening.
*Courgette plants have both female and male flowers. Female flowers grow on the developing courgettes. The male flowers grow directly from the stem and are smaller then the female ones. Both are edible.