Pasta ai Fiori . . with Flowers

May 20, 2008 / Food & Wine

My girlfriends have come through for me once again. Paid a high price though . . . they cackled at me, yes at, not with me, for a few interminable minutes as I recounted my attempt at fiori fritti. Fiori (flowers) as they are simply called in Rome, are the mozzarella and anchovy stuffed, battered, and fried (fritti in Italian) zucchini-flower antipasto that everyone loves. Needless to say I made a mess of it. (They gave me the secret, or at least pointed out my mistake . . so a note about this is coming soon.)

Their decision, I realize in retrospect born of pity, was to suggest an alternate, simpler recipe . . for the poor boy without a mamma around or a wife to cook for him and who obviously can’t for himself, they were surely thinking. Pity? I can do pity. Pity is fine . . as long as I get recipes like this in exchange . . .

Rinse and quickly drain 6-8 large zucchini flowers, remove and discard pistils at the center, cut up into long thin strips. In a large pan, saut√© (in cold-pressed virgin olive oil only!) one slightly crushed but still whole garlic clove (you will remove this shortly, hence not wanting it in many small pieces), and (Girlfriends’ SECRET!) one maximum two small anchovies until they “melt”. Remove garlic.

Lower the heat and throw in the flowers for a few minutes, adding some fresh chopped basil right at the end. The girfriends’ recipe calls for some parsley too, but I think it tastes like soap, so at the risk of angering four Roman matrons (yes, am playing with fire), no parsley here.

Add lightly drained very al dente fresh egg farfalle (butterflies, aka bow ties that you just boiled in a pot of salted water) to the pan with the flowers and mix and stir it all together on low fire for a few more minutes, until pasta is properly al dente.

Let cool for a few minutes. Serve, adding fresh mozzarella cut into thin strips on top. (You do not want the mozzarella to melt as it will become rubbery.)

Well worth being laughed at by four lovely grannies . . .


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

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