Zucchini. The never-ending summer story
This wonderful summer squash from the Cucurbitaceae plant family (which includes melons, marrows and cucumbers) is thought of as a vegetable, but is in fact a fruit. You find it in a range of tones, but we prefer the pale green romanesco variety with its firmer consistency and superior flavour both cooked and raw.
Historically used for medicinal purposes to treat colds, aches and various other health conditions, zucchini, when in the height of their season have multiple nutritional benefits including a high antioxidant content (particularly rich in carotenoids) and a good dose of vitamin A, beneficial for your eye health as well as your immune system.
We have really made the most of the zucchini season this year. Here are a few of our highlights..
Frittata di Fiori
This incredibly simple to make omelette decorated with zucchini flowers is a real summer showstopper. Consider 1 large egg per person. Beat thoroughly, adding a generous pinch of salt. Carefully wash the zucchini flowers, checking inside each for insects; remove the spines where the stem meets the flower, remove the stamen and cut off the stems and sprinkle a little bit of salt on the flowers. Make sure every bit of your frying pan is evenly coated with olive oil, the pan is hot (but not burning), and pour in the beaten eggs. Let the bottom cook gently and firm up ever so slightly, then arrange the flowers pointing outwards, like a sunflower, with the stems in the middle. Once the bottom is cooked, pour a little glug of olive oil all around the flowers, and place the pan under the grill, until the egg on top is just at setting point, then transfer to a serving plate.
The oil of choice: Frantoio Librandi, Carolea
Zucchini Crudi con Limone e Pepe Rosa
Nothing can be simpler than finely slicing zucchini in the middle of summer and dressing with the best olive oil, lemon zest, sea salt flakes and pink pepper corns. We don’t even need to give you a recipe for this! Just remember to slice the zucchini thinly and ensure they are well coated in the dressing.
The oil of choice: Frantoio De Carlo, Tenuta Arcamone
Fiori di Zucchini Fritti, Aperitivo of Kings
We are huge fans of the aperitif slot and try to make the most of it whenever we have time. Zucchini fritti are a sensational partner to a crisp, bright white wine or better still something sparkling. If you can find small enough zucchini with the flower attached, you can fry the whole thing, alternatively it works well with just the flowers.
They need to be carefully washed and checked for stay insects inside the flowers. Remove any spines around the base of the flower, remove the stamen and then set aside.
Meanwhile make a simple tempura batter using a cup of normal plain flour, a cup of grano duro flour (durum wheat), a cup of cold sparkling water and a pinch of maldon salt.
Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan and as it is heating, drop 5 or 6 ice cubes in to the batter.
Now you need to work relatively quickly: using tongs, drop each flower in to the batter to coat fully and then in to the frying pan. Once lightly golden, place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil and you may then wish to add a touch of fine salt. Eat immediately.
The oil of choice: Frantoio Viola, Tradizione