Glorious Vegetable Fritto Misto

Glorious Vegetable Fritto Misto

In the spring, cookbook author Domenica Marchetti paid tribute to one of her culinary idols on her blog.  Today, it’s Domenica’s turn to take the spotlight.  A brilliant home cook, eloquent writer and proud (fellow) daughter of Abruzzo, my friend Domenica’s latest cookbook, The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, is stunning.Cover photo

I was fortunate to witness Domenica in action this summer when our families spent a food-filled day together on Abruzzo’s fabled Costa dei Trabocchi.  Domenica is as thoughtful in her cooking as she is in her writing.  Now, I’m admittedly a bit of a chiacchierona (chatterbox) and become particularly gregarious in Italy, where a double dose of adrenaline kicks in the moment my plane touches down.  During our seafood cookery class on a trabocco, a spider-like fishing platform that juts into the Adriatic Sea, I couldn’t help but wonder whether Domenica secretly wished she could ask me to please pipe down as I babbled and gesticulated excitedly throughout our lesson (see proof below).  However, Domenica good-naturedly endured my prattle while she instinctively cleaned briny mussels and diced sun-ripened tomatoes. (Domenica’s solicitousness has been passed down to her two teenagers who willingly entertained my three little boys all day).

Recovered Autosave-001

Work and play in the trabocco kitchen – Can you tell who’s who? (And Domenica, are you smiling in the bottom left photo because you finally have a moment of peace?)

Later that evening, we were treated to a pre-dinner baking lesson with our friend Fabrizio Lucci’s mom and godmother. Admittedly, neither of us was able to keep pace with Rosa, who nimbly and effortlessly shaped the delicate cookies called celli ripieni into perfect crescents.  Towards the end, however, I began chit-chatting with Mamma Anna Maria while Domenica – who, by this point, was feeling the effects of jetlag – diligently persevered until she mastered the technique.

So it comes as no surprise that the recipes in The Glorious Vegetables of Italy are both meticulously detailed and infinitely inspiring.  The book’s gorgeous photography and Domenica’s engaging prose are truly, in her words, a “love letter to the Italian way with vegetables.”  Although the volume is worthy of display on a coffee table, I know that before long, my copy will take its place, dog-eared and oil-stained, among my favorite cookbooks – although in my house, it will likely always be called “the vegetable book that Nick and Adriana’s mom wrote.”

Tray

Vegetable Fritto Misto from Domenica Marchetti’s The Glorious Vegetables of Italy available on Amazon

So here’s to you, Domenica, one of my culinary idols … auguri infiniti.

Vegetable Fritto Misto

Recipe adapted from The Glorious Vegetables of Italy by Domenica Marchetti

I looked to my garden for guidance in choosing my first recipe to try from The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.  This may be my last week for zucchini blossoms (“fiori di zucca”) and in my opinion, there’s no better way to enjoy them than battered and fried.  In her recipe, Domenica also recommends adding baby artichokes to the fritto misto (which I didn’t have on hand).  I did, however, have the fresh sage leaves she suggests and trust me, this ingenious addition to your fritto misto is a must.

Raw Veg

Makes 4-6 or more servings

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sparkling spring water, such as San Pellegrino
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 zucchini blossoms, with stems, rinsed and patted dry
  • 6 large fresh sage leaves, with stems, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 small zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
  • Vegetable oil (or your oil of choice) for frying
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges for serving
  • Coarse sea salt for serving

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, water, egg, and fine sea salt to make a smooth batter about the consistency of heavy cream.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

Pour enough oil into a medium skillet to reach a depth of ½ to ¾ inches.  Place over medium-high heat and heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 C) on a deep-frying thermometer (if you’re using another type of oil, adjust the temperature if needed).  To test the oil temperature, drop a small amount of batter into the hot oil.  It should sizzle and float to the surface immediately, and quickly turn golden.

Have ready a paper towel-lined baking sheet for draining the oil.

Drop the zucchini blossoms in the batter (stems up) and then transfer them immediately to the hot oil.  Fry the blossoms in batches, taking care not to crowd the skillet, for 2 minutes, use a fork to turn and fry for another 2 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the blossoms to the prepared baking sheet.  Fry the zucchini wedges and sage leaves in the same way, turning them once as they cook.

Platter

When all of the vegetables have been fried, transfer them to a serving platter and sprinkle a little coarse sea salt over them.  Arrange the lemon wedges on the platter and serve immediately.

Buon appetito!

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13 Responses to Glorious Vegetable Fritto Misto

  1. Frank Fariello August 27, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    What a gorgeous plate of food! I have a real weakness for fritti, whatever they’re made of. And I am really enjoying Domenica’s new book. An instant classic!

    • Majella Home Cooking August 27, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

      I love a good fritto myself, Frank. While I was cooking, I wished that I had some bocconcini of fresh mozzarella to throw in there for good measure! And I couldn’t agree more – Domenica’s book is definitely a new go-to.

  2. Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo August 27, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    That book looks great. Thanks for teaching me a new Italian word that my family will apply to me from now on when in Italy; chiacchierona!!

    • Majella Home Cooking August 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      The verb “chiacchierare” has always been one of my favorite of the Italian lexicon (probably because it’s been used in relation to me quite often!). I also love when people ask you to sit down “a fare due chiacchiere” (literally, to have two chats, but in essence, to chit-chat a bit). 🙂

  3. tinywhitecottage August 27, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    What a wonderful opportunity. I must look for Domenica’s book.

    • Majella Home Cooking August 27, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

      It was a wonderful experience, indeed. I look forward to writing about it soon. And yes! Definitely seek out Domenica’s book. It’s wonderful!

  4. Kat at travelgardeneat August 27, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    A beautiful work of art (and I bet the book is great too :-))!

    • Majella Home Cooking August 27, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

      Kat, I thought of you when I was writing up the recipe. Add a little piece of fresh mozzarella and a salt-cured anchovy inside those flowers (at least those that are quite closed – some of mine were slightly open) and eccola – the fiori di zucca of your Italian dreams!

  5. Domenica Marchetti August 27, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Michelle, I am truly honored and humbled by your kind and generous words. I am still dreaming of that day on the trabocco in Vasto. It was the day after my family and I arrived in Italy and I was walking on air just being there. We had such fun together and more fun to come in the future, I hope. I’m thrilled you like Glorious Vegetables, but mostly I’m thrilled that my arms don’t look fat in the pictures! Un abbraccio xox

    • Majella Home Cooking August 27, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

      Your arms look toned and lovely, Domenica! It was a special day indeed. That part of Abruzzo is positively magical and I was thrilled to experience it with you and your lovely family. I wish you all the best with the book – it is glorious indeed! Un abbraccio, M.

  6. mltucker August 27, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Right back into it! This looks delicious. Great post. Brava Michelle!

    • Majella Home Cooking August 27, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

      Thanks, Lou! A little fried goodness can help any blues, even the post-Italy variety!

  7. ciaochowlinda August 27, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    That platter of blossoms and sage leaves has me thinking…maybe tomorrow’s the day to fry up some. I haven’t done that once this summer yet. I agree with you on the new cookbook and on Domenica. She’s such a warm person and all her cookbooks are terrific, including the newest one, that I have already marked and cooked from. I made the potatoes and green beans with pancetta the other night and it was delicious. How wonderful for you that you got the chance to spend the whole day with her in Abruzzo.

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