07 June 2011


Tuscan Primavera 2011, our tenth spring in Tuscany, has been the most luxurious and enduring spring that we have had in a while. It seems the last few years have gone directly from winter to summer, but this year has been truly exceptional. I always think of April as the purple month with lilacs, wistaria, and irises making their debut. May turns red with poppies and yellow with ginestra (scotch broom). Soon we are hauling the potted flowers out of their winter shelter and turning up the garden.

For me, the real joy is in my orto (my kitchen garden), as the buds and seedlings start to pop out. I can hardly resist eating the first flowers on the acacia tree, and then the elderberry tree. See my recipe below.

flowering quince...........................sage..................................garlic chives

Here is a recipe from my new cookbook,
Cucina Povera, Tuscan Peasant Cooking
which will be released September 2011

Frittura di Primavera

Battered and fried spring flowers and vegetables ©

We make this appetizer year round. In the fall and winter we use fuzzy sage leaves and sliced potatoes; in the spring we have elderberry flowers and acacia flowers; in the summer zucchini and their flowers. The important thing is to get the oil as hot as possible without letting it smoke (at least 375°). The hotter the oil is the less absorption in the food. We use olive oil because we have it, and it is delicious, but vegetable oils can be used. Fry in small batches so as large quantities will reduce the temperature of the oil.

4 clusters of unsprayed elderberry flowers (or your local edible flower), rinsed and spun dry

12 Sage leaves, rinsed and patted dry

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sparkling water (or beer or Prosecco)

Extra-virgin olive oil for frying

Salt to taste

Whisk ingredients together until smooth.

Heat the olive oil. Dip the prepared flowers and leaves in the batter, shaking to remove excess, and place in the hot oil. Cook for 1 minute, until golden brown, turn once, then remove to drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Serves 4

Take a walk with me in our garden on a morning in late April...


  1. oh....it looks and sounds so lovely. Thank you for sharing...

  2. Beautiful and I was pleased to see someone else appreciates green glass demi-johns.

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