Squash blossoms. If you are lucky enough to know someone who grows zucchini and hasn’t a clue what to do with the flowers, smile and ask innocently, “So, do you think I could have the blossoms from your squash? I REALLY appreciate the squash you give me, but I’d LOVE the flowers.” Because, unless you grow squash yourself or you arrive REALLY early at a Farmers Market, you’re not getting them any other way. I am so fortunate to have them growing right next door at Hill Creek Farm. Of course, I was silly enough to gush over their availability and I could see the cogs turning for increased production/pricing for the 2018 crop. Then I sent The Farm a picture of a fried squash blossom which was posted on their site and others apparently gushed. So I can see I’m dead for next year.
These babies are so perishable that at best they last for a day or two, given love, care and the right temperature in your fridge-you really should use them the day they are picked. The going rate commercially is $1.60 per blossom which is why you seldom see them on restaurant menus. But if you can con a neighbor into “donating” them to you, you grow your own or discover a find at your local farm market, this recipe is for you. Delicate, creamy and crunchy, it is both a traditional Italian delicacy and a real surprise for the people you are feeding.
You can do 100 different riffs on this base recipe, using different soft cheeses, feta, goat, fresh mozzarella, etc as well as different additions, as long as you pre-cook raw ingredients before stuffing the blossoms and those ingredients don’t contain too much water. You will only be frying them for a few minutes, so anything inside needs to be precooked or be fine eaten in the raw state. I have added cooked mushrooms, pine nuts and all kinds of herbs to the cheese mixture.
Fried Zucchini Blossoms
8 medium squash blossoms
For the stuffing:
¼ C. chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 plum tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ C. ricotta cheese
1/8 C. mozzarella cheese, grated
For the batter:
¾ C. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 ½ tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small egg
1 C. water
Canola or peanut oil for frying
- Remove the stamen from the center of each blossom and cut the stem short. Gently wash and dry the blossoms.
- Heat 1 tsp. of olive oil in a skilled and add the chopped onion. Cook until the onion is translucent-about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring.
- Let cool and mix the onion/garlic mixture with the cheeses and the chopped tomato.
- Spoon a heaping spoonful of the cheese mixture into the blossom (don’t overfill, but the filled blossom should be plump) and slightly twist the end closed. You will need to gently smooth the blossom around the filling, so that blossom covers the filling neatly. Set aside in the refrigerator while the oil heats.
- Whisk together in a bowl the flour, salt, olive oil, egg and 1 C. water to make a fairly thin batter (this will NOT look like pancake batter-more like light cream).
- Pour the canola oil into a tall pot (to save oil, I use a 6” pot with 5” sides) to a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil to 375° F.
- Gently lower the stuffed blossom(s) into the batter and turn to coat. With a slotted spoon, lift the coated blossom out of the batter, letting the excess batter drain back into the bowl.
10. Carefully lower the blossom into the oil and fry until golden brown-about 2-3 minutes. Don’t overcrowd the oil and you may need to turn the blossom to brown it evenly.
11. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
The blossoms are best picked at night or very early in the morning, so if you can’t charm your neighbor into giving them to you, a flashlight can come in mighty handy. Not that I’m advocating theft or anything…