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Credit: iStock / lillisphotography; Flickr / freshtopia.net; Lillian Henegar

I’d never made anything as exotic as Stuffed Squash Blossoms before...

Yet those dollar bags at the farmers market full of yellow frilled blossoms were beckoning me. After giving them the pass several weeks in a row, I pushed through the trepidation and purchased a bag. What the heck, I thought, I’d only be out a couple bucks if my culinary adventure turned into a boondoggle.

(Click to learn how to harvest squash blossoms from your own garden.)

Stuffed Squash Blossoms recipe

My edition of The Joy of Cooking had a basic recipe for 12 squash blossoms: The stuffing comprises cheeses (1 cup), salt (1/4 tsp), chopped fresh herbs (2 tbsp), minced garlic (1 clove) and black pepper to taste. Egg (1), flour (1/3 cup) and oil are the remaining ingredients.

Lactose-free alternative

My lactose-intolerant daughter came to stay with me the summer I first began making stuffed squash blossoms. Grandly, I thought, I will prepare my first and only born these lovely delights. I quickly realized I had a problem, or so I thought: How does one make something like this without cheese?

I improvised by substituting finely chop nuts—walnuts, I think—and extra herbs. The egg mixture sufficed to hold it all together in the hot oil. The outcome? They were just as delectable and quite a treat.


Having made these little delicacies several times now, I’ve found the best results come from using a combination of cheeses—including goat cheese, an Irish cheddar and grated Parmesan.

Work space and requirements

Expect every single inch of your kitchen counter to be covered with fixings: wooden cutting boards where garlic and herbs are to be chopped into tiny pieces; a bowl to hold the chopped herbs and cheese mixture; one shallow wide-mouthed bowl to hold the egg and another for the flour.

And dare I mention all the plates and platters needed just for staging? There is the plate with toweling to hold the blossoms waiting for their “dressing,” the plate for the blossoms that are “dressed”—stuffed with the delectable mixture—and the plate with toweling awaiting the blossoms that have completed their journey through the oil.

Stuffing squash blossoms

Stuffed squash blossom recipeStuffed squash blossom recipeStuffed squash blossom recipe Stuffing the delicate blossom can be a bit of a challenge, but a quickly mastered one. The book instructs us to remove the pistil; not entirely clear what that is, I remove the pointy thing in the bottom of the inside of the bloom.

I take approximately a tablespoon of the herb and cheese mixture and stuff it into the opening, and quickly but gently twist the ends of the petals to close.

Then I dip it in the slightly beaten egg, roll it gingerly in the flour and then lay aside for frying.


Frying squash blossoms

The greatest mystery of all—how deep the oil and how hot! The first time out, no matter my reservations, I have learned it is best to follow the directions. So, I dutifully pour a half-inch of olive oil into a cast iron skillet—man, it seems so deep… That’s an awful lot of oil. In subsequent attempts at making stuffed squash blossoms, I have substituted canola oil (a half-inch of olive oil in a skillet is expensive! But, tasty!) which worked well.
A good cookbook will provide detailed instruction on proper frying, but the rule is the hotter the oil, the better the outcome. You just don’t want your oil to smoke. Pick an oil with a high smoke point (sorry, butter is out!). The heat seals the blossom quickly, preventing a soggy unappetizing oil rag to result. The hint of oil enhances the flavour and its heat melds the flavours of the stuffing with the vegetable’s green crispness intact. Yum!

The recipe says that one should eat the stuffed squash blossoms as soon as they are made. And, certainly, once you have one, you jump in enthusiastically to follow that direction. However, one bag contains a lot of squash blossoms and inevitably there’ll be leftovers. So I usually store the leftovers in plastic containers and take them to work; they’re just as tasty cold or warmed in the office microwave. I’ve even been known to make myself a Stuffed Squash Blossom Sandwich!

The downside to making these creatures? Besides cleaning up the mess, it’s the heat generated in my cramped kitchen during the hottest time of the year in Sacramento’s three-digit summers. But we just crank up the fans and put more ice cubes in our drinks! Bon appétit!
 


Lillian Henegar
Lillian Henegar
loves “real food you can trust.” The daughter of back-to-the-earth farmers, she’s been an on and off gardener cultivating big vegetable gardens and scattered flower plots throughout her life. (Warm memories for her daughter, GardenWise Online digital editor Hilary Henegar.) Lillian currently lives in Sacramento, California, where she has a small balcony flower garden and two cats who love to hangout there.

Professionally, she is director of policy and outreach for the California Redevelopment Association, a member association that provides professional development and legislative advocacy for California’s redevelopment practitioners.