I love the summer and always look forward to it coming. I remember spending my days at the pool, having fun and relaxing. Somehow, every year between September and June I forget the truth about summer, the busyness of it all and how quickly it flies by. Driving kids back and forth to camp, rather than just getting them to the bus, spending more of the day out doors and at the pool, which is quite nice, but unfortunately leaves little time for food prep, cooking and clean up and even less time to photograph food, write about and post it right here. So I’ve had a little hiatus from blogging, but now with the end of summer drawing near and the start of school and back to a more regular routine soon approaching, I’m looking forward to cooking and writing and I have a lot in mind.
But, one of my favorite things about the summer is the special things I find at the farmer’s market, one of those being squash blossoms, special and fleeting, get to the local market quick while they last! They may already be done for this year (although I found another batch at last week’s market), so something to look forward to.
First of all, let’s just start with the fun factor…giant flowers that you can eat, isn’t that enough to want to give these a try??? Now the less fun part…they are quite delicate, you need to have a little patience filling them and…they often can be found with little stowaways and occasionally one of those stowaways may even be a little stinging friend, so just be careful and carry on.
The first thing I do when I get home from the market with a bag full of lovely blossoms is to take each one out of the bag individually, carefully open them up and give them a gentle shake over the sink, just to encourage any critters hanging out to escape. If I’m not planning to prepare them right away I’ll just place them back in the bag with a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture and keep them happy a bit longer in the fridge. It’s really best to use them within a day or two day of getting them, three days tops, as they wilt fairly quickly.
When I’m ready to prepare them, I reach inside each one and remove the stamen, which holds the sticky pollen. I also cut off the stem just at the base of the flower, occasionally I’ll leave it on just for a prettier presentation, but I don’t eat it. Then I prepare the filling and carefully spoon it in.
I have made these both cooked in oil in a sauté pan and also baked in the oven. Both are quite good. Cooking them on top of the stove certainly requires more hands on time while baking them is a bit quicker. But I do find that cooking them on the stove as opposed to baking, leaves the filling just a bit more moist and creamy. Either way, they are best eaten right away, leftovers while edible are definitely not as good. These make a great appetizer or as a light meal, I like to serve them with a little fresh tomato and herb salad, I don’t think any sauce is needed, but if a little of the tomato juice and dressing soak in I don’t complain.
Summer Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta and Herbs
Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones
Summer Squash Blossoms – about 16 – prepped by removing stamen, shaking out or brushing off any stow aways, and cutting off the stem or leave it on for presentation
1 cup Ricotta cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs – see combo suggestions below
Zest of ½ Lemon
Fresh grated Nutmeg – a pinch, plus Salt & Pepper
Optional – 1/3 cup grated Locatelli Romano cheese
1/3 – ½ cup Bread Crumbs
1/3 – ½ cup grated Locatelli Romano cheese
Butter & Olive Oil – starting with 1 Tablespoon of each, adding more as needed
Optional: extra chopped fresh herbs mixed into bread crumbs & cheese
Fresh Herb Options: I’ve used a variety of herb combinations when making this dish, but I always include parsley no matter what the other herbs are. Some of my favorite combinations for this recipe are:
Parsley, Mint, Chives, Basil
Parsley, Mint & Oregano
Parsley, Basil & Thyme
Parsley & Thyme
Or simply Parsley
The filling – In a small bowl mix together the Ricotta, Egg, Fresh Herbs, Lemon Zest, Nutmeg, Salt & Pepper. Next fold in the grated Romano if using.
In a larger shallow bowl (such as a shallow soup bowl or a pie plate), add the other three Eggs and beat well.
In a second shallow bowl, mix together the Bread Crumbs and grated Romano, plus the herbs if using.
Heat a large non stick skillet over a medium flame. Add about 1 Tablespoon each Butter & Olive Oil, melt.
Now to stuff the Blossoms: Carefully open the petals and add a small spoonful of the Ricotta mixture into each blossom.
Next, dip each blossom into the beaten Eggs and then carefully coat with the breading and cheese mix. Add blossoms to the hot skillet, about 4 or 5 at a time. Cook until lightly browned on one side and then turn to brown the other side. Remove from pan and add more blossoms until all are cooked, adding more butter & olive oil as needed.
Or, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 15-20 minutes.
Serve warm as an appetizer, side dish or main course with a salad of mixed greens or fresh tomato and herbs dressed lightly with lemon and olive oil. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes: The filling is enough to stuff 16-20 blossoms, if you wish to make less I would still mix up the complete filling recipe and then… If I have any leftover filling and breading (I do as my mother always did, who learned it from my Italian Nana),I add them together, adding any extra of any of the ingredients if needed and then form a fritter and cook that in the same pan as the blossoms, a yummy little extra!