During the summer, we’re lucky to have access to our family gardens as well as those of neighbors and friends. If you have a garden of your own, or know someone nearby, you’ve certainly experienced that late summer perfect storm where everything ripens at once. Our friends and family make the rounds of the neighborhood with armloads of tomatoes, zucchini and squash. And despite those efforts, who hasn’t let that one Zucchini go unpicked and grow into a 3 pound giant?
My contribution to the cause is to raid the garden of squash blossoms. In truth, I’m not really doing much to cull the harvest. The female blossoms form at the end of small buds which eventually grow into the squash, while the male blossoms grow on thin stems. I tend to only pick the male blossoms.
Blossoms of zucchini, summer squash and many other summer varieties are edible and have a delicate texture and flavor. There are many preparations, but my favorite is to stuff them with a light cheese mixture and fry them until crispy.
8 blossoms of zucchini or other summer squash, cleaned and stamens removed
½ cup flour
½ cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Approx. ½ cup cold water
2 shallots minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
¼ cup fresh ricotta cheese
¼ cup softened goat cheese
Salt and pepper
Canola oil for frying
1. Prepare the batter by whisking together the flour, cornstarch, salt and cold water. Adjust the consistency using more or less water until it resembles a thin pancake batter. Don’t over mix. Let the batter stand for 20 – 30 minutes before using.
2. Sauté the shallot in a skillet with a little olive oil over medium heat until just soft, 3 – 4 minutes.
3. Add the thyme and bread crumbs and sauté another 1 – 2 minutes, until the crumbs begin to brown. Off the heat add the ricotta and goat cheeses, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Carefully open the blossoms and fill each with about a teaspoon of the stuffing. Twist the blossom shut and set aside.
5. Heat ½ inch of canola oil in a heavy skillet to 360°F. Working in small batches, gently dip the blossoms in the batter, allow the excess to drip off and place them in the oil. Fry about 3 minutes on each side, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Lightly season with salt and serve immediately.