It’s the beautiful, hot, spectacular month of July in Montreal and home gardens are in full bloom! The tomatoes are not quite ready yet – we have to patiently wait until August for them to be vine-ripened to perfection. But other lovely delights like all kinds of lettuce, kale, broccoli, celery, hot peppers, onions and herbs of all varieties are bountiful and delicious.
There is one plant I’d like to talk to you about this week, common in Italian home gardens: the zucchini plant. Not only do we love the eventual zucchinis, but we also use the male flowers from this plant to make a sweet treat.
This year, I had the pleasure of taking a gardening workshop through Sociale. Urban Seedling offered informative instruction on planting beautiful, flourishing gardens in urban settings, with limited space and resources. What a gift to our health to be able to grow our own organic food!
Not only is gardening fun, it feels amazing to be outdoors, one with nature, tending to our plants lovingly, and then harvest the bounty. What can be more natural than growing our own food? We also beautify our living space and attract wildlife by planting gardens, flowers and trees.
All my life, I have adored learning about gardening from my parents and grandparents. My grandmother taught me the difference between the female and male zucchini flowers. The female flower is a large golden yellow flower at the end of the emergent zucchini. The male flower is slightly smaller and grows on the stem of the zucchini plant, with no zucchini attached. Both flowers are edible, but Italians typically use only the male flower for cooking, since it opens to release its pollen, and then simply falls off the plant.
My family has a very special recipe for this Italian classic known as fiori di zucca: flowers from the zucchini plant, dipped in a tempura-style batter, and sweetened with a sprinkling of raw cane sugar. Oh yum – what a treat! I veganized the recipe, of course, because that’s what I do!
We can make a batter with any type of flour you like to use. I chose a combination of kamut and spelt, old-school grains which are easier to digest than modern day, more industrialized wheat. Instead of eggs, I used egg replacer, which worked like a charm to bind the batter. For stovetop cooking, I like to use grapeseed oil since it doesn’t denature at high temperatures and has a neutral taste. Check out the recipe below and try your hand at this classic Italian treat, now veganized!
Fiori di Zucca
½ cup kamut flour
½ cup spelt flour
¾ cup water
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 teaspoons egg replacer
½ cup grapeseed oil
Zucchini flowers, whole or shredded, stem and stamen discarded
- To prepare the batter, mix all ingredients, except the flowers, with a spatula in a large bowl.
- If you have many zucchini flowers, you can dip the whole flower into the batter and fry it. If you have only one or two flowers, shred them and mix them into the batter. Some people prefer to discard the stem and stamen of the flower.
- Heat oil over high heat in a frying pan.
- Drop a large spoonful of batter or whole dipped flower into the frying pan. Fry for 1-2 minutes and flip over. Sauté until golden brown on each side.
- Remove from oil and allow excess oil to drain on paper towels. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle with extra cane sugar if desired. Serve immediately.
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” ~Marcus Tullius Cicero
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