Fritto misto (Mixed fried vegetables)
- Preparation time: 30 minutes.
- Cooking time: 20 minutes.
- Standing time: 15 minutes.
- Aubergines-Onions-Asparagus-Cauliflower-Courgette flawers-Mushrooms.
- Extra-virgin olive oil.
For the batter
- Preparation time: 5 minutes.
- 150g plain flour.
- One tbsp extra-virgin olive oil.
Carefully clean and wash all the vegetables; dry and cut into pieces ofroughly equal size (cut the onions and aubergines into rings, the courgettes vertically into sticks, the artichokes into segments, split the cauliflower into single florets. You only need to remove the stalks of the asparagus and the courgette flowers. Clean the mushroom caps with a damp cloth, trim away the root end and scrape the stalk lightly with a knife. The mushrooms should only be coated with flour before frying. Prepare the batter as follows: using a wooden spoon beat together the flour, oil, salt and just enough water to make a fairly thick paste which should be smooth and creamy, leaving ribbon-like trails when it falls from the spoon. If you like a frothier batter, replace the water with the same amount of beer, or use half water and half beer. Put the batter in the fridge for an hour before using it to coat the vegetables. The greater the difference between the temperature of the hot oil and that of the cold batter, the crisper the fry will be.
Dip the vegetables into the batter and fry in plenty of oil over a medium heat, until light golden. Do not allow them to become too dark in colour as this will give the fry a slightly bitter taste.
Drain and place the fried vegetables on kitchen paper to dry and serve hot, sprinkled with salt.
Pellegrino Artusi commented, "This is the method they use in Tuscany and it is the best. There they use and abuse vegetables and greens to such an extent, that they have learned to cook them better than anywhere else".