Market Fresh: Zucchini flowers
My favorite way is to deep-fry them in a very light, almost tempura-like batter. Whisk enough ice water into flour that it thickens to the consistency of heavy cream. Dip the flowers in the batter, give them a twirl to get rid of any excess batter, and fry them in hot oil until they're crunchy -- just two or three minutes. That's just one idea.
How to choose: Choose flowers that have been picked early in the morning and are tightly closed (they're more likely to be bug-free). Rinse them gently under cold water and tease them open with your finger just to make sure. Also, I prefer male flowers (just stems, no squash attached) because by the time the squash is cooked through, the flowers are usually overdone.
How to store: Zucchini flowers should be refrigerated tightly sealed.
How to prepare: If you don't want to fry them, cut zucchini flowers into shreds and add them to a risotto or a quesadilla filling.
-- Russ Parsons
Photo: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times