Fritto Misto is a classic Italian antipasto and an easy (and ideal, in my humble opinion) solution for using up all of the spring and summer’s abundance of peppers, eggplant, summer squash, and all of the other odd bits that you have hanging around the garden and farmer’s market. Translated literally to “Mixed Fried,” I could just eat this with a zesty salad or soup for the perfect summer meal. Fritto Misto works beautifully as a festive starter, served right in the kitchen as it comes off the hot oil… and for my all-time favorite application… to soak up a day of wine tasting!
This is not so much a recipe as a method. It scales very easily to suit as many as you want to feed but the quantity below seems just right for a party of 4. The most important factor is to get the oil to it’s smoking point. There’s nothing worse than soggy Fritto Misto!
A variety of spring and summer vegetables, for example:
6-10 small peppers such as padron or shishito
2 small eggplants, sliced into 3/4” thick coins
2 large zucchini, sliced into 3/4” thick coins or 6-8 baby zucchini with blossoms still attached (if using babies, leave them whole but remove the stamen of the flowers)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup seltzer water
2 cups high-heat oil such as grapeseed or canola
1 cup olive oil
Course salt to taste
2 lemons, cut in half
Cast-iron or deep skillet at least 12” wide
Combine flour and seltzer water in a bowl and whisk until blended. If you like a thick batter, add 1-2 tablespoons more flour. I like a light tempura-style batter so I leave mine pretty thin (Note: You can make the batter up to 8 hours ahead of time).
Heat oil in your skillet. This will take approximately 5 minutes. If you have a thermometer, the oil should be around 350 F. If not, just get the oil to it’s smoking point and then turn down the heat slightly. This is just right for cooking the vegetables quickly but not burning them.
Meanwhile, cut the vegetables to the size you like and coat them in batter. Drop them a few at a time into the hot oil. The batter should be a nice golden brown after 30-45 seconds. Flip the vegetables at this point and cook the other side until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel to soak up excess oil and continue to cook remaining vegetables. If you have a lot to make, heat your oven to 250F and place finished vegetables in a single layer in the oven to stay warm.
Sprinkle some course sea salt over the finished vegetables and mound onto a platter with the cut lemons. Let your guests season with lemon to taste and dig in. Mangia!
During squash blossom season, try stuffing the blossoms and frying according the the above method. These beauties up above are from one of my very favorite farms in Phoenix, Maya's Farm. My favorite combination is mozzarella, parsley, anchovy, and bread crumbs. Chop one anchovy filet and 1 tablespoon of parsley very finely and add to 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs. To this, add 1/4 cup of chopped fresh mozzarella and stuff 10-12 squash blossoms with filling. Make sure you remove the stamen and pollen before you stuff, however, or the finished product will be very bitter.