Crispy Zucchini Blossoms at Fascino

by Melody Kettle

Ryan DePersio, Melody KettleI grew up across the street from a cemetery.  It was nice to have such quiet neighbors, but it was even nicer to have a source of spontaneously generated zucchini blossoms.   

Every year, around June, my grandmother and I would cross the street, squeeze through an opening in the cemetery fence, and with brown bags in hand, we would head toward the southernmost hill in the cemetery that was magically covered with countless golden zucchini blossoms.   And we would pick, and pick.

When we were satisfied with our bounty, we would head home to dredge, egg, and bread the blossoms.   We would then set up an electric fry pan on the patio, and enjoy the crisp flowers, al fresco, with the my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Fond memories indeed!

My affection for zucchini blossoms is shared by many chefs, home cooks, and food enthusiasts.  “Nothing gold can stay,” nor could the tender saffron colored flowers. They, like ramps and other seasonal delicacies, have a fleeting season of availability.

Zucchini blossoms are currently available as an appetizer at Fascino in Montclair.  Owner and chef of Fascino, Ryan DePersio, has put his own stylized twist on the Italian summer classic.  Ryan trades the heavy bread crumb for a light tempura, stuffs the blossom with savory crab, and tops the crisp blossom with a mellow, complimentary, tomato marmellata.

I recently had the pleasure of joining Ryan in the kitchen at Fascino where he prepared his signature, Crab Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms with Yellow Tomato Marmellata.  Click here to watch the video.

If you’re so inclined to create your own summer zucchini blossom memories, then give it a try!  Here’s Ryan’s recipe:

Peekytoe Crab Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

1 lb peekytoe crab meat

1 tb of sour cream

2 tb of lemon juice

1tb chopped tomato confit (Substitute Sun Dried Tomatoes)

5 leaves of basil julienned

salt and pepper to taste

10 zucchini flowers

Dry crabmeat on paper towels. Mix sour cream, lemon, basil, and tomato confit in a large bowl. Gently fold in crab and season with salt and pepper. Place mixture in a pastry bag and fill flowers 3/4 of the way up. Refrigerate until ready.

Yellow Tomato Marmellata

4 cups of diced yellow tomatoes

1 spanish onion small dice

1 teaspoon of chopped garlic

1/4 cup of white wine

2tb of sherry vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Place a large sauce pot on med heat. Pour in 2 tb of olive oil.  Add onions and sweat for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic and stir for a few seconds and then deglaze with white wine and vinegar. Lower heat and cook for 2 min. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm or room temp.

Tempura Batter

1 cup of flour

pinch of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 cups of sparkling water

Place flour, baking soda and powder in a large bowl.

Slowly whisk in sparkling water until a semi-thick nappe.

Dip flowers in batter and drop in a 350 degree fryolater for 30 seconds. Take out and dry excess oil on paper towels and serve.