Sunday, June 18, 2017

Squash Blossoms

This year is shaping up to be an amazing year for my garden. Here in Pennsylvania, the rule of the green thumb is that planting season starts after Mother's Day, which is the second weekend in May. But I usually start getting excited in early April and I have made the mistake of planting too early. Last year, against repeated warnings from my husband, I planted tomatoes in the middle of April and by July all my plants had succumbed to blight. This year I exercised a little more patience and waited until the end of April to get my first plants in. So far, so good. My garden is exploding!

We went a little overboard, though. I found four-packs of plants on sale at a local nursery and now we have an excessive amount of cucumbers, peppers and yellow squash. The cucumbers are just starting to develop and they will eventually become pickles. The peppers have just begun to bloom. But the yellow squash are out of control. Every one of the four plants are covered with tiny squash and dozens of blossoms. Last Friday morning, I saw a couple of squirrels and a hungry looking rabbit eyeing my garden, so I decided to harvest the larger squash before they became a salad bar for the critters.

Each one of those baby squash had a blossom attached and there were lots of other blossoms on all the plants. I grilled the following night and decided to just toss the baby squash on the grill quickly. But the blossoms! I've had fried squash blossoms before and they are so amazingly delicous. Its a classic Italian preparation and some of my Italian friends have spoken fondly of their grandmothers making fried squash blossoms for breakfast. Typically, they are stuffed with ricotta cheese, dipped in a thin batter and flash fried in hot oil so the cheese doesn't fall out. I've also seen them prepared with no filling, just the flower battered and fried. I had some lovely local chevre in the fridge and a bunch of fresh herbs in the garden. So, before dinner, I decided to try stuffing them and frying these delicate little flowers up as an afternoon snack.

I only had 6 blossoms, so this was a small scale operation. I filled a small bowl with water and washed the flowers very gently, being careful not to tear them, then placed them on a paper towel to dry. I cut some fresh thyme, parsley and chives, chopped them up and mixed them into about a quarter of a cup of chevre. Then I made a thin tempura style batter using about a quarter cup of flour, a little salt and pepper and enough seltzer to to give it the right body. The carbonation of the seltzer gives the batter a very light and crispy texture when its fried. I really can't tell you how much seltzer I used, I didn't measure anything and just relied on my intuition and hoped for the best. The batter has a similar consistency as crepe batter or heavy cream - just thick enough to stick to the flowers but not gloppy. I set a small pan on the stove and put about half an inch of vegetable oil in it, then turned the heat to medium and let it come to temperature while I assembled the blossoms.

I tore a slit in each blossoms and with my finger I dug out the little polen stem inside. I filled each blossom with about a tablespoon of the goat cheese mixture and wrapped the delicate flower around it so make sure it was sealed. One by one, I dipped each blossom into the batter mixture, letting the excess drip off the ends, and placed them gently in the hot oil. They popped and crackled as they fried. It only took a couple of minutes for them to turn brown and I removed them quickly so the filling didn't fall out. We ate these little beauties while they were still hot and the filling was melted. They were so yummy I wish I'd make more. Later that evening while I was grilling, I saw many more blossoms in the garden and now I can't wait to try this again. Fried squash blossoms - my new favorite treat.


  1. Inspiring! Do you ever can �� tomatoes? Since I was leaving town, I just chopped up my ripe tomatoes and threw them in the freezer. And the I thought - WWAD? -Barbara Macleod

    1. I have not, I usually just freeze them, but maybe this year I'll try it with my San Marzanos