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Taste This: Planting Italian Roots in America

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This time on Taste This, we visit with the parents of cook and author Rosetta Costantino. The Costantino family immigrated to the United States from Calabria, Italy in 1974, bringing with them heirloom seeds and enough equipment to recreate their edible garden here in the Oakland hills. For more than 40 years, the garden has fed their desire for a taste of home, and it is a symbol of their roots, one that they till and toil to preserve.

Rosetta Costantino, her husband, and her mother cheers to another bountiful meal from the garden.
Rosetta Costantino, her husband, and her mother cheers to another bountiful meal from the garden. (Peter Ruocco)

Pitticelle di Zucchine (Zucchini Fritters)

Makes 2 dozen, to serve 6 to 8


  • 1 large zucchini (about 1/2 pound), diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for frying

  • For the batter:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • 2 teaspoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup cold water

  • 1. In a bowl, sprinkle the diced zucchini with salt and toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes to draw out some of the water.
    2. Make the batter: Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and make a shallow well in the center. Place the beaten egg, cheese and herbs in the well and mix into the flour with a fork. Add the water and beat well until the mixture resembles thick pancake batter. When you lift some batter with the fork, it should fall in a ribbon. If the batter is too thick, add more water, a teaspoon at a time. If too thin, add a little more flour.
    3. Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a frying pan over moderate heat until it sizzles when you insert the end of a wooden skewer or chopstick (about 365ºF).
    4. Drain the zucchini but do not rinse. Fold the zucchini in the batter and using a spoon transfer a spoonful to the hot oil. Continue adding spoonfuls of the battered zucchini to the frying pan until it is filled but not crowded. Fry zucchini fritters until golden brown on both sides, turning with a fork halfway through. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Repeat until all the batter is used. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.


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