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Squash Blossoms are Awesome (Especially when Stuffed & Fried)

Ida
Posted by Ida on Jun 20, 2016

 

When summer begins, most people get excited for beaches, vacations and school being over. But what makes ME a happy summertime girl? Farmers markets! From unique varieties of herbs, to almost unheard of heirloom tomatoes breeds, farmers markets are the prime place to get unique produce that you just can't find at grocery stores. But from the beginning of June until (usually) mid-July, one thing you can likely find (if you look hard enough) are squash blossoms.

squash blossomsThese pretty little orange & yellow flower buds are what start to bloom before they mature into a summer squash or zucchini. They're cute, they're delicate, they’re fun to say, they look like a little sunrise, and most importantly, they're edible!

With a delicate texture and mild herby taste, squash blossoms are delicious in salads and as a garnish in risotto. But my favorite thing to do with them is stuff them, fry them in a prosecco batter, and toss them over a lovely panzanella, which is a pretty tomato & bread salad (with tomatoes and basil from the farmers market, of course).

While I love this use of squash blossoms, I must admit that I am loosely basing this off of a recipe from Food Network Chef Anne Burrell. (With my own lil vegan tweaks of course). This recipe serves 4 and takes about 30 minutes to prep (most of which is inactive prep from letting the panzanella sit)

Panzanella (Tomato & Bread Salad)

  • 1 lb heirloom tomatoes, halved (I used heirloom cherry tomatoes for a beautiful variety of red, yellow, & purple)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • ½ a baguette, sliced into small cubes
  • ¼ cup basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, toss together tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Let sit for 30 minutes, until some of their liquids are released.

On a sheet pan, place baguette cubes in a single layer. Toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Place in the oven until golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool slightly. Once cooled, toss into the tomato mixture along with the basil. Give the salad a gentle stir. You'll want some cubes that are softened from the liquid, along with some that are still firm.

Battered Stuffed Squash Blossoms

  • 8 squash blossoms, long stems slightly trimmed (you'll need about ¼ inch of stem on each one)
  • Filling of your choice (I used vegan cheese & herbs, but finely diced veggies work great too)
  • ⅔ cup all purpose or rice flour
  • ½ cup ice cold prosecco (or anything else sparkling)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Canola oil, for frying

Slightly and gently peel the tops of the blossom petals back. All of the blossoms contain a stamen, which looks like a skinny yellow mushroom. While the stamen is not harmful if eaten, it's not very pleasing on the palate, so when prepping your blossoms, gently remove the stamen by pinching it between your fingernails and pulling it out. Fill your blossom ⅔ of the way up with your filling, which is about 1-2 tablespoons, depending on the size of your blossoms. Twist the top end until closed. Don't worry if it doesn't fully shut. The batter will help seal it.

For the batter, whisk together your flour, prosecco & salt, until it looks like a loose pancake batter. You might need to adjust your flour or prosecco accordingly, depending on the consistency.

Heat your oil up to 375 degrees. Grab each blossom by the stem end, and dip into the batter. Immediately place into the oil, and fry for about 2 minutes until lightly golden brown (Only fry 2-3 blossoms at a time.) Remove from the oil, and place on a wire rack to drain. Season with salt

Optional additions:

Balsamic glaze

Additional basil chiffonade

I like to start my plating with a drizzle of balsamic glaze, then I spoon over some panzanella. Finally, I top with two blossoms, and do a sprinkling of basil chiffonade.

panzanellaIf you're looking for something new in your kitchen for the summer, run over to your farmers market and grab some squash blossoms. They won't be in season that much longer, so this is your time!

If you would like help navigating a farmers market with a professional chef, join us for our Farmers Market Tour and Cooking Classes which kick off in July. We'll talk to the farmers at the Lincoln Square farmers market, select what looks amazing and then come back to The Chopping Block for an improvisional cooking class featuring the bounty of the tour. Sign up for our July sessions now!

Thursday, July 14 6pm Lincoln Square

Thursday, July 28 6pm Lincoln Square

Topics: squash, summer squash, vegan

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