What to Do with Squash Blossoms


Battered Squash Blossoms (With or Without Stuffing)
Squash Blossom Frittata
Squash Blossom Quesadillas
Squash Blossom Hush Puppies
Squash Blossom Soup

Squash blossoms are a treat generally unavailable to all but home gardeners and habitués of farmers markets. They’re so extraordinarily perishable that few supermarkets bother trying to keep them in stock. Both the male and female blossoms of winter and summer squash varieties can be used interchangeably. The male blossoms appear at the end of thin stems and can be harvested without curtailing production of squash. If using male squash blossoms, remove the stamens first. The female blossoms form at the end of the buds that grow into squash and are often harvested with the tiny, nascent squash still attached. Squash blossoms are edible raw or they can be incorporated into a variety of recipes. But once you’ve clipped them out of your garden or brought them back from the farmers market, don’t tarry long. “Squash blossoms live about as long as mayflies—at worst a few hours, at best a few days, and only in ideal conditions,” writes Kate Heyhoe, of Kate’s Global Kitchen. To maximize longevity, she recommends “rinsing them, letting them air dry on the kitchen counter, then wrapping them in paper towels, carefully nesting them in a sealed plastic storage container, and refrigerating them in the crisper at a precise controlled 34 degrees.”


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Squash blossoms from the farmers market in Venice Beach, Calif., June 15, 2007


Battered Squash Blossoms [top]
(With or Without Stuffing)

batter:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fat-free chilled milk, beer or water

stuffing:
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoon mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tablespoons fresh basil or parsley, minced
16 large squash blossoms, washed
Canola oil for frying

1. Prepare the batter first. Sift together dry ingredients, then whisk in milk, beer or cold water until smooth. Cover and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Leftover batter can be stored for up to two days. If it is too thick after refrigeration, add a few drops of water to return to original consistency.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. In a bowl combine the ricotta cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, mushrooms and basil. Open the blossoms and spoon about one 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture into the center of each. Avoid overfilling the blossoms. Twist the top of each blossom together to close. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

3. Pour the oil into a skillet to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat over high heat until a small cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden brown within seconds.

4. Briefly dip each stuffed blossom into the batter, then carefully slip into the hot oil. Cook until golden on all sides, about three minutes total cooking time. Add only as many blossoms at a time as will fit comfortably in the skillet. Transfer with a slotted utensil to paper towels to drain briefly.

5. Sprinkle with salt, if desired and serve immediately.

NOTE: In place of the cheese-mushroom stuffing, try another of your favorite bread or meat stuffings.

Source: University of Illinois Cooperative Extension


Squash Blossom Frittata [top]

3-4 blossoms
1-2 baby squash
4 eggs
Dash of milk
2 green onions
Asiago cheese
Chopped parsley and snipped chives (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Pick 3 to 4 blossoms per person and 1 or 2 baby yellow or green summer squash. Rinse blossoms well and drain on paper towels.

2. Beat 4 eggs with a little milk. Add fresh chopped parsley and snipped chives, if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. In a non-stick pan, saute a little butter and cook 2 green onion and thinly sliced baby squash just until soft. Then quickly saute the blossoms for about 30 seconds and remove from pan.

4. Pour egg mix into pan, sprinkle and arrange the onions, squash and blossoms on top and cook over low to medium heat until almost set. Sprinkle with Asiago cheese and put under the broiler until lightly puffed and browned.


Squash Blossom Quesadillas [top]

1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
10 squash blossoms
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh epazote, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 flour tortillas
1/4 pound grated Mexican white cheese
Olive oil, butter or margarine, for cooking

1. Heat a large saute pan with a little oil and saute the onion, garlic, and the roasted poblano pepper for 5 minutes, until the onions have become translucent. Then, add the squash blossoms and deglaze with chicken stock. Add the epazote, and cook for another 5 minutes until squash blossoms have wilted. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.

2. To compose the quesadilla, lay two of the tortillas on a flat surface. Distribute the cheese equally on both tortillas. Then, spread 1/2 of the squash blossom filling over the cheese. Cover with the other tortillas, place on heated griddle or nonstick saute pan with a little olive oil, butter or margarine, and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. When golden brown on each side, remove and cut into quarters.

Source: Adapted from recipe demonstrated by Aaron Sanchez
of the Food Network’s show, Melting Pot.


Squash Blossom Hush Puppies [top]

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning or ground cayenne pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Wet Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons corn oil or bacon drippings

Vegetables:
1/4 cup minced onion
8 to 10 squash blossoms, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh corn kernels

Corn or canola oil for frying

1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Beat lightly with a fork to blend.

3. Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a deep-fat fryer or a large, heavy pot (to a depth of about 3 inches.) When ready to cook, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir in the vegetables. Mix until just combined. Drop by spoonfuls into the hot oil and brown on all sides, which should take 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

NOTE: Hush puppies should be golden and crisp on the outside, and tender and moist inside. If the first batch turns out too dry, moisten the batter with more milk.

Source: Kate’s Global Kitchen


Squash Blossom Soup [top]

1/4 stick butter
1 onion, sliced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound squash blossoms (about 4 cups)
1 cup half and half
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Grated anejo cheese (for garnish)

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Saute the onions, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook about five minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes add the blossoms and cook 5 minutes longer.

2. Transfer soup to food processor and puree until smooth. Strain soup back into saucepan. Pour in the half and half and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and top with grated anejo cheese, a dry, crumbly Mexican cheese somewhat like parmesan, which can be used instead, for a somewhat different taste.