Have you ever had squash blossoms
? They're delicate yellow flowers that grow on squash
plants. Squash blossoms have a mild lettuce-like taste and are great stuffed with cheese and wilted or pan fried. For years I saw squash blossoms on restaurant menus where they were stuffed, battered and fried into a crispy appetizer. Sounded awesome, but definitely not healthy and most likely not gluten-free. A few years ago my friend Jessica (of Inspired By Ingredients
) told me that she often stuffs squash blossoms
with cheese and anchovies and fries them without any flour or other coating. I decided to give them a try and stuffed squash blossoms
are now my favorite 2 minute summer appetizer. Cooked squash blossoms aren't particularly beautiful, as the flowers wilt when cooked, but they're what I like to make for me and my husband to eat right out of the pan with a glass of Prosecco while I'm cooking dinner (the little miss likes to get in on this action too).
You can stuff squash blossoms with nearly anything. The trick is to carefully remove the stamin from the center of the flower by pinching it with your fingertips, then gently stuff the blossoms with your favorite melting cheese.
I'm not really mature enough for this picture but I do want to show how easy it is to remove the stamin.
I like to use mozzarella (fresh is best but I've used cut up string cheese in a pinch). Add a little more flavor with a squeeze of garlic paste, like I do, or an anchovy if you're a fan (I am not - a bit too hairy scary for me to eat whole). You can also use goat cheese or another soft cheese, but I love the way mozzarella melts and browns around in the edges that ooze out into the pan while the stuffed squash blossoms are cooking. Drizzle them with a bit of good balsamic vinegar. I use a simple aged balsamic because that's what I always have in my cupboard, but have also had seared squash blossoms drizzled with flavored balsamic vinegar (Jessica uses espresso balsamic vinegar, which is really good, and I've used fig balsamic vinegar when I had it in).
Another variation I like to make is to is to use provolone deli slices, garlic paste and dried oregano for the stuffing (if you live in the food Matrix you can pretend you're eating a white pizza - the garlic and oregano combo give it that pizza-like flavor).
Some people like to slice squash blossoms and use them in salad, or add them to the end of a sauté of veggies as a garnish. But for me, it isn't often that I can find something relatively healthy and gluten-free to stuff with cheese and cook until it gets all melted and gooey so I usually stuff any squash blossoms I can get my hands on.
Look for squash blossoms at your local farmer's market or at specialty food stores. I usually buy squash blossoms in NYC for about 25 cents each. Squash blossoms have a very short shelf life and are best used the day you buy them. You can get away with putting them in the fridge for a day in a brown paper bag but they will be slightly wilted (which is ok if you're cooking them - just pinch off any slimy portions of the flower after storing them and use the rest of the flower for cooking). To clean the squash blossoms, swiss them in a bowl of cold water and drain them on a paper towel until dry.
Do you have a a favorite recipe for squash blossoms? Share in the comments!